Marijuana Grow House Discovered During Fire Response in San Francisco (CA Health & Safety Code §11358)

Rabin Nabizadeh
July 31, 2013

Around 1a.m., close to John McLaren Park, firefighters and other local law enforcement officials were called out to a residential fire in the 100 block of Tucker Avenue.  Although no one was inside the home at the time of the fire, marijuana grow house equipment was found in 5 of the rooms. Those first on the scene suspected that something was off when they had a good bit of difficulty breaking into the residence.  Investigators believe that faulty electrical equipment may have caused the blaze and the house was not operating with power from PG&E.

In the state of California, Health & Safety Code §11358 covers the legality of cultivation of marijuana.  Under this particular law, not only is it illegal to grow marijuana plants and to dry and process them after harvest, it is also against the law to even handle marijuana seeds. However, it is permissible to cultivate marijuana under Proposition 215, which allows those persons who have been granted medical marijuana cards to grow their own supply.

There are several different defenses to a charge under HSC §11358. The first of these is that you are growing plants legally under medical marijuana provisions.  One could also argue, and quite successfully, that the marijuana you grew was not for the purpose of later selling it. Thirdly, one could cast reasonable doubt on whether or not the marijuana plants, seeds, etc. can be tied to you directly.  If convicted of such a charge, however (and depending on the number of plants and other variables), you could be looking at up to 3 years in state prison, or probation and one year in county jail.

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