Ecstasy Opinion by Appeals Court Sure to Cause Misery
The opinion held that MDMA (also known as Ecstasy) is a “controlled” substance because its chemical name contains the words methamphetamine and amphetamine (each statutorily recognized as controlled substances). This seems to directly conflict with a 1991 case, People v. Silver, wherein the court found that based on expert testimony, MDMA is not molecularly similar to any controlled substance listed in Health and Safety code §§ 11378 or 11379.What to Take Away: MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, is not molecularly similar to amphetamine or methamphetamine, but its chemical name suggests it is composed of a controlled substance. The following case held that Ecstasy is not a controlled substance, so one cannot be criminally liable for possession it on an argument that it contains amphetamine or methamphetamine.
The Davis ruling seemed to also conflict with a recent Second Appellate District ruling in People v. Richie Quang Le (2011 DJDAR 13312). In Le, the trial court reasoned that because the chemical name for MDMA, (Methylenedioymethamphetamine) suggests a methamphetamine or amphetamine compound, MDMA was illegal. The appellate court in Le, however, reversed the trial court on August 29, 2011. Part of its ruling cited to Silver, meaning Silver remains good law. The formal cite to Le is People v. Richie Quang Le (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 1031, 130 Cal.Rptr.3d 566 and the formal cite for Silver is People v. Silver (1991) 230 Cal.App.3d 389, 281 Cal.Rptr. 354.
Consequently, we believe the Davis ruling is vulnerable to attack and should be appealed to the California Supreme Court.
Davis was arrested at a New Year’s Eve at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Undercover officer Rubalcava from the LAPD Gang Narcotics Division Buy Team bought two blue pills from Davis for $20. Rubalcava then arrested Davis. Davis was later charged with a violation of Health and Safety Code § 11378, possession for sale of a controlled substance, § 11379, sale of a controlled substance.
At trial, a criminalist from the LAPD crime lab testified that the two blue pills tested positive for MDMA. The jury found him guilty. The judge sentenced him to thirty-six months of formal probation with the condition that he serve 90 days in county jail.
The appellate court, in response, noted that section 11055 (d)(1), says a controlled substance includes, “[a]mphetamines, its salts, optical isomers, and salts of its optical isomers.” Section 11055 (d)(2) lists “methamphetamine, its salts, isomers and salts of its isomers.” Finally, section 11055 more broadly identifies a controlled substance as “any material, compound, mixture or preparation” containing “any quantity of several substances having a stimulant effect on the central nervous system.”
The appellate court then even discussed Silver, agreeing that the Silver court’s decision was correct. However, the Davis court pointed out that Silver was distinguishable from Davis because in Davis, the analysis is only whether to uphold the guilty verdict on appeal, which is a low standard. “
“Applying common sense,” the Davis court concluded that because MDMA’s chemical name “contains the terms amphetamine and methamphetamine and not including any suffix or term negating the inference (e.g. pseudo),” the name “supports the inference that the pills sold to Officer Rubalcava contained methamphetamine.”
For more information about the legal treatment of ecstasy, click on the following articles:
For case summaries of selected drug offense cases our firm has handled, click here.
- Appeals Court Overturns Alhambra Conviction for Possession of Ecstasy Pills
- Suspected Ecstasy Drug Trafficker Successfully Challenge Search of His House Based on Faulty Search Warrant Affidavit
- Convictions Overturned for Possession and Sales of Ecstasy When Based Only on Inference That Its Chemical Name Is an Illegal Controlled Substance
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