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California MDMA (Ecstasy) Law & Policy

2003 California bills concerning MDMA

AB 57 seeks to place MDMA into Schedule 2.

2002 California bills Concerning MDMA

AB 1941: seeks to require special permit for "rave" events.

AB  2300:
seeks to place MDMA in California's Schedule 1.

SB1103/AB1416: Defeated: Sought to place MDMA in Schedule I and create 90-day mandatory minimum for using or "being under the influence of," the drug. >> reports

MDMA's Current Legal Status in California

MDMA is *not* an explicitly scheduled substance in California. Rather, prosecutors treat MDMA as a "controlled substance analog." If a prosecutor succeeds in proving this, then the MDMA is treated just like a Schedule I controlled substance.

California Punishment for MDMA ("Ecstasy") Offenses

Possession of MDMA

A person convicted of possessing a personal use amount of MDMA in California faces a maximum of 1 year in the county jail or state prison. It is almost unheard of for a judge to actually impose such harsh sentence. If the person meets six criteria the prosecutor is required to refer the case to Diversion. The six criteria for Diversion are:

  (1) The defendant has no conviction for any offense involving controlled substances prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense.

   (2) The offense charged did not involve a crime of violence or threatened violence.

   (3) There is no evidence of a violation relating to narcotics or restricted dangerous drugs other than a violation of the sections listed in this subdivision.

   (4) The defendant's record does not indicate that probation or parole has ever been revoked without thereafter being completed.

   (5) The defendant's record does not indicate that he or she has successfully completed or been terminated from diversion or deferred entry of judgment pursuant to this chapter within five years prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense.

   (6) The defendant has no prior felony conviction within five years prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense.

(See Pen. Code. Sec. 1000; For more about California’s diversion program read this article by Jeff Brown of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.)  

If a person is eligible for Diversion they are able to enter a conditional plea of guilty and if they then successfully complete the diversion program (usually “drug education” classes) the plea is set aside. This means that they do not receive a criminal record.

  Possession of MDMA with Intent to Sell

Punishment for possession of MDMA with intent to sell is governed by section 11378 of the California Health and Safety Code. Along with Penal Code Section 18, the punishment is a state prison term of 16 months, or two years, or three years. Diversion is not an option.

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