California Marijuana Laws

On January 1, 2018, the state of California legalized the recreational use of marijuana. The legalization was because of the passage of Proposition 64 by voters in November 2016. According to the law, any person who has attained the age of 21 years and above can possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana. It is also legal for persons of 21 years or older to possess concentrated cannabis up to 8 g. Subject to certain restrictions, it is legal to grow a maximum of 6 marijuana plants for personal use. Long Beach Criminal Attorney can help you understand California marijuana laws and fight on your behalf in case you violate them.

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Understanding Marijuana Laws

It is legal to possess certain amounts of dried marijuana or concentrated cannabis in California. If you exceed the allowable limits, you could be liable for a misdemeanor punishable by fines and jail time. It is illegal for a person below the age of 21 years to possess even a small amount of marijuana. Possessing marijuana while you are below 21 years is an infraction punishable by a fine. If you are below 18 years, punishment for possessing marijuana could include community service and counseling.

California law 11357 HS outlines the rules regarding personal possession of marijuana. People of 21 years and above can possess up to 28.5 g of marijuana; this is a bit more than an ounce. It is also legal to possess up to 8 g of hashish, also known as concentrated cannabis. However, restrictions exist regarding where you can consume marijuana. According to the law, you should only consume marijuana in private, and you should have the consent of the property owner. Therefore, if you stay or work in a rented property, the property owner can restrict the use of marijuana within the premises. You should not smoke marijuana in a place where smoking tobacco is illegal.

In addition to possessing marijuana while younger than 21 years or possessing more than the legal amount, there are violations of marijuana laws. You could be liable if you possess concentrated cannabis or marijuana while on the grounds of a K-12 school, especially if the school is ongoing.

For the purpose of the law, concentrated cannabis refers to separated resin, which could be purified, or crude mainly obtained from marijuana plants. The alternative name for concentrated cannabis is hash or hashish. California law considers concentrated cannabis marijuana.

Consequences for Illegal Possession of Marijuana

The consequences of illegal possession of marijuana will depend on the nature of the violation and the age of the perpetrator. If you possess marijuana or concentrated cannabis and you are below 21 years, you will get infraction charges. The consequences will include community service and drug counseling if you are below 18 years. If you are above 18 years, you could incur a fine not exceeding $100 for illegal possession of marijuana.

For people above 18 years, it is a misdemeanor offense to possess more than 8 g of concentrated cannabis or over 25.5 g of dried marijuana. The penalties include a jail sentence of 6 months in jail. The court might also require you to pay a fine that does not exceed $500.

If you are below 18 years, possessing over 28.5 g of dried marijuana or more than 4 g of concentrated cannabis is an infraction. The penalties are community service and drug counseling.

If you possess concentrated cannabis or marijuana on the grounds of a K-12 school, you will get California misdemeanor charges. For the first offense, you have to pay a fine not exceeding $250.

For a person below 18 years, it is an infraction to possess concentrated cannabis or marijuana while on the grounds of a K-12 school. The penalties for the offense include community service and drug counseling.

Marijuana Cultivation

According to California law 11358 HS, people above 21 years can cultivate a maximum of 6 marijuana plants. Unless local regulations allow outdoor growing of marijuana, you should grow marijuana indoors. Irrespective of whether you grow marijuana indoors or outdoors, the plants must be in a secure location and should not be accessible by children.

Marijuana cultivation by a person below 18 years is an infraction, and the consequences include community service and drug counseling. Unlawful cultivation of marijuana by persons above 18 years may attract a fine that does not exceed $100.

For adults above 21 years, it is an offense to cultivate more than six marijuana plants. People who commit this offense are guilty of a misdemeanor. The penalties are a jail time not exceeding 6 months in California county jail or a fine not exceeding $500.

In some instances, cultivating over 6marijuana plants could attract felony charges. Felony charges might apply for:

  • Individuals who have a record of committing a violent felony
  • Individuals registered as sex offenders.
  • People who have two and above previous convictions of cultivating over 6 marijuana plants
  • People who cultivate marijuana and end up violating particular environmental laws in California

Possession of Marijuana With the Intention to Sell

Under California law, the sale of marijuana is legal but only for businesses that have the relevant licenses and operate according to the local and state laws. According to California law Code 11359 HS, possession of marijuana for sale is a criminal offense.

In most cases, the crime of possessing marijuana for sale is a misdemeanor. The penalties could include jail time not exceeding six months at a jail. The court could also impose a fine that does not exceed $500.

Under certain circumstances, possession of marijuana for sale can attract felony charges. You could get felony charges if you have committed a violent felony in the past. Violent felonies include rape, murder, sex-related crimes against minors, gross vehicular manslaughter, and sex crimes that require registration as a sex offender.

Felony charges could apply if you have 2 or more previous convictions for possessing marijuana for sale. If you possess marijuana for sale with the knowledge that the marijuana will be sold to a minor, felony charges will apply. For a felony conviction, the consequences include imprisonment for 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in county jail. 

Proving the Intention to Sell

How can the prosecutor prove that you possess marijuana with the intention to sell? Some of the evidence that the prosecutor may provide a:

  • Possessing a large volume or quantity of marijuana
  • Presence of suspicious items like weighing scales and baggies
  • Presence of large amounts of money and weapons
  • A valid opinion of the police that the marijuana was for sale
  • The presence of a pot with numerous containers or bags

Marijuana Sale Without a Valid License

You should sell marijuana in California if you have a valid license. Usually, the Bureau of Marijuana control issues the licenses. If you do not have a license, you should not transport or sell marijuana. The California law code 11360 HS outlines the crime of marijuana sale without a valid license. This law has played a big role in controlling the black marijuana market.

For most people, transport or marijuana sale without a valid license is a misdemeanor crime. The punishment includes jail time not exceeding 6 months in jail. The court could also have you pay a fine that does not exceed $1,000. If you are below 18 years, transport or marijuana sale without a valid license is an infraction. If you transport or give away marijuana that does not exceed 25.5 g, the crime is an infraction.

Selling or transporting marijuana without a valid license is a felony if you have committed a violent felony in the past. If you have 2 or more convictions for transport or marijuana sale without a valid license, you will get felony charges. If you intentionally sell or attempt to sell the drug without a valid license to a person below 18 years, the prosecutor will charge you with a felony.

If you import or attempt to import marijuana into California, you will get felony charges. Felony charges will hold if you transport, attempt to transport or offer to transport over 28.5g of marijuana out of the state, California. Similar charges apply if you attempt to transport more than 8 g of concentrated cannabis out of the state of California. 

Black market transportation and sale of marijuana is punishable by 2, 3, or 4 years in county jail. You should note that provided you do not have the intention to sell; it is not a crime to transport marijuana in California. However, you should not transport more than 8 g of concentrated cannabis or over 28.5 g of marijuana. You also have to ensure that you do not give marijuana to people who are below 21 years. 

Sale of Marijuana to a Child/Minor

According to California law code 11364 HS, it is a felony crime to sell the drug to a child/minor provided you have attained the age of 18 years. You will also get felony charges if you engage a minor in administering, peddling, furnishing, selling, carrying, or transporting marijuana. The felony charges will apply irrespective of the type or the amount of marijuana involved.

For a violation under 11361 HS, you could be subjected to imprisonment in a California state prison in California. If the minor involved has not attained the age of fourteen years, the penalty is 3, 5, or 7 years imprisonment in prison. If the child has attained the age of fourteen years but is below 18 years, the penalties will be 3, 4, 5 years in state prison. 

Marijuana for Medical Use

The passage of voter Proposition 215 legalized medical marijuana. The California code 11362.5HS outlines this legalization of marijuana for medical uses. Unlike in the case of recreational marijuana, medical marijuana does not have strict limits regarding the quantity that you should possess. As long as it is in line with your doctor’s recommendation, you can possess as much marijuana as you need. The amount of marijuana you possess will depend on the medical condition you are suffering from and your doctor’s prescription. 

Even if you have not attained 21 years, you can still cultivate marijuana for medical use with your doctor’s recommendation. However, if you are below 18 years, you should have the consent of your parents to cultivate or possess marijuana. 

Only people suffering from serious medical conditions can use medical marijuana. Some of the common conditions include Anorexia, AIDs, Cancer, Arthritis, Multiple sclerosis, Migraines, seizures, and other severe conditions like extreme nausea and chronic pain.

A primary caregiver can also possess the medical marijuana as long as marijuana is for the patient's use. The law allows possession, transport, and cultivation of marijuana as long as it is for the patient's personal use. The amounts of marijuana should also be reasonable, depending on the medical needs of the patient.  As of January 1, 2018, medical marijuana users can get new recommendations from their doctors. 

Dispensaries operating legally in California have a right to give medical marijuana to patients and the patients’ primary caregivers.

Federal Law on Marijuana

Federal law considers marijuana a hallucinogenic drug, according to Schedule 1. According to the federal government, people have the tendency to abuse marijuana; therefore, federal law does not approve marijuana for medical use. The federal law takes precedence over California law. Therefore, you could violate federal law if you transport, give away, or sell marijuana even if California law allows. According to Federal law, the first crime of possessing marijuana is punishable by imprisonment of not more than a year in federal prison. You might also have to pay a fine that does not exceed $1,000.

If you possess the substance with the intention to sell or cultivate less than 50 plants of the substance or 50 pounds of the substance, you could get imprisonment of up to 5 years in federal prison. You might also pay a hefty penalty not exceeding $250,000. Longer imprisonment terms and higher fines apply for larger quantities of marijuana. 

Find a Long Beach Criminal Attorney Near Me

Violation of marijuana laws in California comes with hefty penalties.  It is important to seek legal counsel if the prosecutor accuses you of a violation. Long Beach Criminal Attorney can guide you on the legal procedures and help you come up with a good defense. Contact us at 562-308-7807 and speak to one of our attorneys. 

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