Meth Arrests Surging in San Diego

A study of law enforcement data has revealed that meth-related deaths and arrests are on the rise in San Diego County. This is true, despite targeted efforts to help individuals struggling with addiction. The problem seems to be most prevalent in the city of San Diego.

Between 2015 and 2018, the number of arrests and citations for possession and/or distribution of methamphetamine rose by nearly 50 percent. Other areas reporting drastic increases in meth-related arrests in recent years include Vista, Lakeside, San Marcos, and Rancho Santa Fe.

Methamphetamine is a Controlled Substance

Drugs and chemical substances are classified into one of five categories by the federal government. Schedule I controlled substances are considered to be the most dangerous and addictive, while Schedule IV controlled substances pose the smallest threat for potential abuse. Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug.

According to the Controlled Substance Act, a Schedule II drug has a “high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Unlike Schedule I controlled substances, these drugs may have a legitimate medical use.

It’s Illegal to Possess Meth in San Diego

California state law prohibits possession of methamphetamine unless explicitly authorized by law. Specifically, under Health and Safety Code 11377 HS, it’s illegal to knowingly have actual or constructive possession of a usable quantity of methamphetamine.  

Actual vs. Constructive Possession

Possession can be defined two different ways: actual and constructive. Actual possession means that you are in physical contact with an object. This can include holding it in your hands or having it in your pocket. Constructive possession means that you have the ability to exert control over an object, even if you aren’t near it. For example, you’d have constructive possession of meth if it were in the glove compartment of your vehicle or your dresser drawer at home.

For the purposes of 11377 HS, there’s no difference between actual and constructive possession. Both are equally in violation of the law. It’s just as illegal to have meth in your pocket as it is to have it stashed somewhere in your home.


You have to have a certain degree of knowledge to be guilty under 11377 HS.

First, you must know that the substance in your possession is methamphetamine. You can’t be convicted if you honestly, but mistakenly, believed the substance was something else that is not illegal to possess.

Second, you must know that the drug is in your actual or constructive possession. This protects you if the drug is someone else’s or planted on you.

What Happens If You’re Convicted For Possessing Meth?

Thanks to Proposition 47, possession of methamphetamine is (almost) always a misdemeanor. If convicted, you’ll face a maximum of one year in prison. A judge may also order you to pay a fine and/or successfully complete stated terms of probation.

Possession of methamphetamine can still be charged as a felony if you’ve bee convicted of a violent crime or are required to register with the state as a sex offender.

You can fight meth possession charges in California. Defenses can include lack of knowledge or violations of your Constitutional rights. The best thing to do if you’re arrested on meth charges in San Diego is to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney will help you secure the best possible outcome in your case.

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