On January 1, 2018, California approved the recreational use of marijuana. This approval resulted from Proposition 64, which voters passed in November 2016. If you are above 21 years, the law allows you to possess around an ounce of dried marijuana. The law also allows possession of up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. If you exceed the allowable limits, you may be guilty of violating California marijuana laws. The law does not allow people below the age of 21 years to possess marijuana. The California law 11357 HS outlines the California marijuana laws. Violating marijuana laws in California could lead to hefty penalties. We at the Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer can help you come up with a defense strategy. 

Marijuana Laws Explained

Even if it is legal to possess a certain amount of marijuana in California, restrictions exist regarding where you can consume marijuana. You can only consume or smoke marijuana in private, and you should have the permission of the property owner. If you stay in a rented apartment, for instance, you have to consult with your landlord before consuming marijuana within the premises. If you intend to use marijuana while at work, your employer should consent.

At certain places in California, you cannot smoke tobacco. It is essential to know that in such areas, it is also illegal to consume marijuana. Possession of marijuana becomes a crime under certain circumstances. It is a crime for a person below 21 years to possess marijuana. It is also a crime to possess more than 28.5 grams of dried marijuana. If you are on the grounds of a K-12 school, the law prohibits possession of concentrated cannabis or marijuana.

The separated resin obtained from the marijuana plant is known as concentrated cannabis. The alternative name for this product is hash or hashish. California law considers this product to be marijuana. Therefore, all the laws that apply to possession, sale, and transportation of marijuana also apply to concentrated cannabis. 

Penalties for Illegal Possession of Marijuana

The penalties for illegal possession of marijuana vary depending on the circumstances of the offense. When a person below 21 years possesses marijuana or concentrated cannabis, the crime is an infraction under California law. The consequences may include drug counseling. If the defendant is above 18 years, he/she may have to offer community services. For defendants of above 18 years, a fine not exceeding $100 may apply.

It is a misdemeanor offense for a person above 18 years to possess more than 8 grams of concentrated cannabis or more than 28.5 grams of marijuana. The penalties for the offense include a hefty fine of up to $500. The defendant could also get a jail time of up to 6 months in a county jail in California.

If a person is below 18 years and illegally possesses more than 28.5 grams of marijuana or more than 4 grams of concentrated cannabis, the offense is an infraction. The potential consequences for this offense include community service and drug counseling.

If a defendant of over 18 years possesses concentrated cannabis or marijuana on the grounds of a K-12 school, the offense is a misdemeanor. For a first offense, the penalties may comprise a fine not exceeding $250.

If a defendant below 18 years possesses marijuana or concentrated cannabis on the grounds of a K-12 school, the offense is an infraction. The potential consequences include community service and drug counseling. 

California Code 11358HS - Cultivation of Marijuana

Voter's Proposition 64 led to the amendment of California law regarding the cultivation of marijuana. A person above 21 years can cultivate up to 6 marijuana plants. Unless the local authorities allow the growth of marijuana, you can only grow marijuana indoors. Irrespective of whether you grow marijuana indoors or outdoors, you have to ensure the plants are in a secure location. This will help to prevent access by minor children. 

It is illegal for a person who has not attained 21 years to grow marijuana; the offense is an infraction. If a person below 18 years cultivates marijuana, he/she has to attend drug counseling and perform community work. However, for a person above 18 years but below 21 years, the consequences for growing marijuana may include a penalty not exceeding $100.

It is a crime for an adult above 21 years to cultivate more than six plants of marijuana. It is a misdemeanor to cultivate more plants than the allowable limit. Potential penalties include a jail time not exceeding six months and a fine, which does not exceed $500.

When is Cultivation of Marijuana a Felony?

In some instances, the cultivation of marijuana is not a misdemeanor but a felony offense. You may be guilty of felony cultivation of marijuana if you cultivate more than six plants of marijuana, and you have on your record a severe violent felony. Felony charges may also apply to registered sex offenders. If you are a repeat offender, and you have had two or more convictions for cultivating more than six plants of marijuana, you may get felony charges. Felony charges may apply if you violate specific environmental laws in the course of cultivating marijuana.

Possessing Marijuana with Intent to Sell

California code 11359 HS makes it a crime to possess marijuana with intent to sell.  You should note that after the passage of voter proposition 64, California legalized the sale of marijuana. However, any business intending to sell marijuana has to obtain a license and operate according to both the local and the state license. If you do not have a license to sell marijuana, possessing marijuana with intent to sell remains an offense. For an adult, the penalties for the offense include a jail time not exceeding six months. A fine of up to $500 may apply.

Possessing marijuana with intent to sell may be a felony under certain circumstances. Felony charges may apply if you have a prior conviction of a serious violent felony. If you have committed a sex crime against a child below 14 years and you commit the crime of possession of marijuana for sale, you may get felony charges. Other prior offenses that may lead to felony charges for violating marijuana laws include sex offenses that require you to register as a sex offender and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. 

Possessing marijuana with intent to sell may also be a felony if you have two or more misdemeanor convictions for possessing marijuana with intent to sell. If you possess marijuana for sale with the intent of selling it to a person below 18 years, felony charges could apply.

The punishment for felony possession of marijuana for sale includes imprisonment for 16 months, two, or three years.

Proof of Intent to Sell

To prove your intent to sell marijuana, the prosecutor will consider circumstantial evidence. For instance, if you have large quantities of marijuana, it could be a sign that you intend to sell it since you cannot consume it all. The presence of items like weighing scales and packaging bags may also indicate that you intend to weigh and pack marijuana for sale. If you have large sums of money alongside marijuana and protective weapons like guns, it could be an indication that you are in the marijuana business.  If the arresting officer believes that you possess marijuana for sale, the opinion of the arresting officer will also matter in court. 

Selling Marijuana without a License

Unlike the possession of marijuana for sale, California code 1136o bans the actual selling of marijuana without a license. Under California law, you must have a license to sell marijuana. The Bureau of Marijuana Control is responsible for issuing marijuana licenses in California.  The California law 11360HS seeks to prohibit a black market in the sale of marijuana. The law also makes it illegal to transport marijuana without a license.

Typically, the unlicensed sale or transport of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense. The consequences for the offense include jail time of up to 6 months in a county jail in California. You may also have to pay a hefty fine not exceeding $1,000. If the defendant is below 18 years, the offense is an infraction. If transport or you give away marijuana, which does not exceed $28.5 grams, the offense is an infraction under California law. 

The offense of selling or transporting marijuana without a license will be a felony if you have a prior conviction of committing a serious violent felony. In California, serious violent felonies mainly comprise sex crimes against a child, murder, and sex offenses requiring registration as a sex offender, among others. 

You may be guilty of a felony if you have two or more prior offenses of selling or transporting marijuana without a license. Felony charges will apply if you sell or you attempt to sell marijuana to people below 18 years.

Felony charges may apply in the case of importing or exporting marijuana or concentrated cannabis in California. For instance, you could get felony charges if you import or attempt to import into California marijuana exceeding 28.5 grams of concentrated cannabis exceeding 4 grams. Felony charges will also apply if you attempt to export similar quantities of the commodity out of California. 

Sale of Marijuana to a Minor

The sale of marijuana to a minor is a distinct crime under California law, according to California code 11361 HS. This crime is a felony, according to California law. The law considers any person below 18 years to be a minor. Despite the passage of Proposition 64 and the legalization of marijuana in California, this law remained intact. 

Other than selling marijuana to a minor, it is also a felony offense to use a minor below 18 years to commit certain activities. These activities include transporting, carrying, selling, giving away, furnishing, administering, peddling, or preparing marijuana for sale.  The felony charges will apply irrespective of the quantity and the type of marijuana. 

The penalties for violating California 11361 HS include imprisonment in a state prison in California and not a county jail/ If you use a minor below 14 years to execute the name marijuana-related activities, the consequences will include imprisonment in state prison for 3, 5, or 7 years.  If you use a minor above 14 years but below 18 years to carry out the mentioned activities, penalties will include 3, 4, or 5 years imprisonment in a state prison in California. 

Operating a Vehicle with Marijuana

The California VC 23222(b) makes it an offense to operate a vehicle in possession of up to 28.5 grams of marijuana. This law is almost similar to the law that makes it illegal to operate a vehicle with an open can of alcohol in your vehicle. Despite the passage of Proposition 64, this law did not change in any manner. You could be guilty of an infraction for driving with marijuana.  The potential consequences include punishment not exceeding $100.

Understanding Medical Marijuana

The voter Proposition 215 legalized medical marijuana. The California code 11362.5 HS sets out the laws regarding medical marijuana.  Voter Proposition 64, which made the use of marijuana legal, came twenty years after the passage of Proposition 215.  California laws regarding medical marijuana remain relevant even if California legalized medical marijuana. 

One significant difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana is the quantity of marijuana a patient can possess. Possession of marijuana for recreational use has strict regulations. However, these regulations do not apply in the case of medical marijuana. A patient has the liberty to possess as much marijuana as he/she wishes as long as the patient has a recommendation by the doctor.  A patient may possess as much marijuana as the patient’s medical condition demands. 

With the doctor’s recommendation, a person below 21 years can cultivate marijuana for medical use. If a person is below 18 years, he/she can also cultivate marijuana but with the consent of his/her parents.  Doctors can recommend medical marijuana for conditions like cancer, arthritis, anorexia, AIDs, multiple sclerosis, migraines, and seizures, among others. 

Possession of Medical Marijuana by a Primary Caregiver

If you are a primary caregiver to a person suffering from a condition that requires medical marijuana, you can possess marijuana. For you to qualify as the primary caregiver, the patient should have named you his/her primary caregiver. You should also be responsible for the primary needs of the patients, including health, safety, housing, and food, among others. A primary caregiver can legally possess, cultivate, or administer medical marijuana. However, marijuana should be strictly for the patient's use. The amount of marijuana the primary caregiver possesses should be reasonable, depending on the medical needs of the patient. 

A primary caregiver should not possess more marijuana than the patient needs and should not at any point, sell or give away the marijuana. After the passage of voters Proposition 64, all medical marijuana users had to obtain a recommendation from their doctors again by January 1, 2018. 

Non-profit medical marijuana clinics in California have the authority to distribute medical marijuana; the same case applies to cooperatives and collectives. The state and the local authorities have in place strict requirements regarding the operations of marijuana dispensaries. Usually, a legal marijuana dispensary can supply marijuana to patients or their caregivers but at a cost.

Federal Law and Marijuana

The Controlled Substance Act under Federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 hallucinogenic drug. The government believes that this drug has a high potential for abuse and is not suitable for medical use. The Federal law is above the California law. Therefore, you violate federal law by giving away, selling, and transporting marijuana. You may still violate federal law even if you abide by the California medical marijuana laws and recreational marijuana laws.

Federal law imposes severe punishment to offenses related to marijuana. The first offense involving simple possession of marijuana may attract a hefty fine, not exceeding $1,000. You may also be subject to imprisonment of up to one year in federal prison. 

The applicable punishment for cultivating marijuana, possessing marijuana with intent to sell, and selling less than 50 pounds of marijuana or more than 50 plants is more severe. The penalty entails a hefty fine not exceeding $250,000. With higher quantities of marijuana, the periods of incarcerations, and the fines increase.  The penalties may also increase with subsequent convictions for marijuana offenses.

After a conviction for a federal drug offense, the government may order you to reimburse the cost of investigating the crime or prosecuting your offense.  It is highly unlikely for you to face federal prosecution for possessing or cultivating small quantities of marijuana as allowed by California laws. The federal government is mainly interested in people who cultivate or transport marijuana in large amounts. However, there has been a change in the laws that prevented federal prosecutors from accusing people who follow state laws while using marijuana. The federal prosecutors have the discretion to decide whether to enforce federal laws or state laws concerning marijuana use. 

The sale of marijuana or possessing marijuana with the intent to sell is an aggravated felony in California. A conviction for these offenses may have adverse immigration consequences, including deportation.

Find a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer Near Me 

The consequences for violating marijuana laws in California can be devastating. You need an experienced attorney to stand by you and help you fight the charges. The Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer has competent attorneys who can help you handle the case. Contact us at 310-502-1314 and speak to one of the attorneys.