Furnishing Marijuana to a Minor in California

In People v. Lopez (1969) 271 Cal.App.2d 754, the defendant was charged with offering to furnish a minor (who was an informant) with marijuana. (Health & Saf. Code, former 11532.) The defendant contended the jury should have been instructed on his mistaken belief that the informant was older than 21. The court rejected that claim because it was (at that time) a felony to offer or furnish marijuana to anyone, regardless of age. (Lopez, supra, at pp. 760-761.) The court noted that because furnishing marijuana is a crime notwithstanding the age of the offeree, the age of the victim only related to the gravity of the offense, and was not a complete defense. (Ibid.) The Court held that a Hernandez defense is not available to a charge of furnishing marijuana to a minor. The Lopez decision pointed out that there is 'nothing in the acts of the Legislature to indicate that Health and Safety Code section 11352 applies only when the offender knows he is dealing with a minor.' ( Id. at p. 760.) Instead, the sale-to-minor provisions 'simply provide ? greater punishment when the offeree is a minor. As a general proposition, it has been said that a mistake of fact relating only to the gravity of an offense will not shield a deliberate offender from the full consequences of the wrong actually committed.' ( Id. at pp. 760-761.)