Marijuana is acceptable as a recreational drug in most American states. The state of California allows the use of marijuana for recreational purposes but within certain limitations and guidelines. These limitations and guidance are provided under various California Marijuana laws. The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm is well-versed with these laws and offers credible legal services to anyone who has a criminal case regarding marijuana.
Overview of California Marijuana Laws
In California, the adult use of cannabis has been legalized under Prop 64. Voters approved the Adult Use of Marijuana (AUMA) on 8th November 2016. There are a couple of rules and regulations that fall under AUMA described below.
Another notable aspect of California Marijuana laws is the use of cannabis for medical purposes. This falls under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act ( MAUCRSA), which ensures a uniform licensing regime for both adult and medical use. The act consists of two bills sponsored by the Governor’s office, which includes SB-94 and AB-133.
Most California Marijuana Laws fall under the Health and Safety Code (HSC ), which is a section of the California Codes that covers the subject area of health and safety. It includes a range of aspects such as health care, environment, licensing, complaints, and investigation of several drugs and substances, including Marijuana.
Finally, the Bureau of Cannabis Control, based in the Department of Consumers Affairs, is in charge of every aspect associated with Cannabis, such as licensing, regulating retail sales, testing, and distribution. The Department of Food and Agriculture is in charge of cultivation while the Department of Public Health oversees the manufacture of marijuana.
Now that you have a clue about Marijuana laws, now let’s have an in-depth look at Marijuana laws in California.
HSC 11018: Definition and Provisions of Marijuana
Under this code, Cannabis is defined as any part of Cannabis sativa L., whether it is grown, in seeds, and resin extracted from any part of the plant. It also includes any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, or mixture prepared from the plant, its seed, or resin. However, it does not include the following:
- Industrial hemp, as provided in Section 11018.5
- The weight of other ingredients of a different ingredient combined with cannabis to prepare an oral administration, food, drink, tropical, or other product
HSC 11357: Possession of Marijuana
Following the legalization of recreational marijuana on 1st January 2018, HSC 11357 came into effect. This law does not regulate anything related to medical marijuana, which has been legal since 1996.
Regulations Related to Possession of Marijuana Under HSC 11357
The fact that marijuana is legal in California does not mean that there are no penalties that follow from possessing marijuana. Therefore, under this California code, it is unlawful to:
- Possess more than 28.5 grams or one ounce of marijuana or more than eight grams of concentrated marijuana
- possess marijuana or cannabis if you are below the age of 21, except when you can legally own it under California medical marijuana laws
- Possess marijuana on a K-12 school ground while the school is still in session
Based on the criminal offense provided above, the following penalties apply:
- Possession of marijuana for people below 21 is a minor offense and attracts penalties such as community service and drug counseling for a defendant under 18 years. If the defendant is above 18 years, he or she faces a maximum fine of $100
- Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana or eight grams of concentrated cannabis for a defendant aged 18 years or over is considered as a misdemeanor. Such an offense attracts imprisonment in a county jail for six months and a maximum fine of $500
- Possession of an excess of one ounce of marijuana and more than eight grams of concentrated cannabis for a defendant under 21 is a minor offense. The penalty that applies for this offense includes drug counseling and community service
- For defendants aged 18 years or over who are found possessing marijuana or concentrated cannabis in a K-12 school, this kind of offense is considered as a misdemeanor. Such an offense attracts a maximum fine of $250 if one is a first-time offender
- An offense that involves a defendant under 18 years, whose possessing marijuana or concentrated cannabis on a K-12 ground, is minor. This kind of crime attracts a penalty that requires drug counseling and community service
HSC 11357(a): Possession of Concentrated Cannabis
It is legal to sell concentrated cannabis or hashish in California, only if you have a state license. There are a couple of aspects related to possession of concentrated cannabis, as explained below.
Definition of Concentrated Cannabis
Concentrated marijuana is a separate resin, both unpurified or purified, extracted from Cannabis Sativa. It is considered as hash or hashish and is also referred to as:
- Honey oil
- Marijuana resin
- Hash oil
The resin extract contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is a psychoactive ingredient. The concentrated resin comes in different forms, such as bricks, liquid, semisolid, or irregular chunks.
Rules Related to Concentrated Cannabis Medical User
Based on California laws, anyone who has the legal entitlement to use marijuana can possess concentrated cannabis for their recreational use. They can also produce it, as long as they do not rely on chemical solvents such as butane.
Those with a legal entitlement to medical use should not necessarily consider the limit that requires one to maintain eight grams of cannabis for recreational users.
Penalties for Offenses Related to Concentrated Cannabis
There are a couple of factors that define possession of concentrated cannabis. These factors are as follows:
In California, possessing a maximum of eight grams of pure marijuana is legal. However, if you are found with more than eight grams, this becomes a misdemeanor, which is commonly known as simple possession.
The kind of penalties that apply for simple possession includes imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum of six months or a fine that amounts to a maximum of $500.
Possession to Sell
Possessing hashish or any other marijuana to sell is considered a misdemeanor in California. Convictions for such an offense attracts imprisonment in a county jail for six months.
Possession of concentrated cannabis to trade can turn out to be a felony under certain circumstances. These circumstances are as follows:
- If the defendants have a previous sentence of a particularly serious offense such as sex crimes and are expected to list himself or herself as sex offenders
- If the defendant has two or more previous conviction for concentrated cannabis or marijuana possession for sale
- If the defendants possessed pure marijuana to a known sale, connection to the sale, or an attempt to sell to someone below eighteen years
Illegal Production of Concentrated Cannabis
The unlawful production of concentrated cannabis is considered a misdemeanor in California. This attracts a potential penalty of a maximum of six months of county jail imprisonment.
Defendants who are found with toxic substances like butane in their production of cannabis resin may end up guilty of extracting a controlled substance through a chemical process. This attracts a maximum fine of $ 50,000 and imprisonment in state prison for three(3), five(5), or seven(7) years.
Unlawful Transportation or Sale of Concentrated Cannabis
In California, the sale and transportation of concentrated cannabis without a license is a misdemeanor. It attracts a potential penalty of six months of county jail imprisonment.
However, the offense can turn out to be a felony under the following consideration.
- If the defendant has a prior criminal conviction especially a severe violent felony or sex crimes that obligates the offender to list as a sex offender
- If the defendant faces two or more previous sentence related to the sale and transportation of marijuana
- If the defendant knowingly attempted or volunteered to sell hashish to someone below the age of eighteen
- If the defendant imported, volunteered, or transported more than eight grams of hashish into or out of the state
The kind of penalty that applies under a felony charge includes a jail sentence for two, three, or four years.
HSC 11357.5: Sale of Cannabis or Synthetic Marijuana
Under this California code, it is unlawful to either sell, posses or give synthetic marijuana. This also includes dispensing, distributing, furnishing, administering, or offering to sell synthetic cannabis or any of its derivatives.
The synthetic drug is considered as a “designer drug” and usually mimics marijuana. Common names used in place of this drug include:
- Herbal incense
- Black mamba
Penalties for Selling Synthetic Cannabis
Selling synthetic cannabis is a misdemeanor in California. This offense is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum of six months and a fine of up to $1,000.
The offense can also be an infraction or misdemeanor based on the number of times that one has been arrested. In such a case, the punishment that follows includes imprisonment for a maximum of six months. Please note, the judge might reward you with summary probation in place of your misdemeanor based on your petition.
HSC 11358: Cultivating of Marijuana
Following the passing of Proposition 64, it is legal for a person aged 21 years or older to grow a maximum of six marijuana plants for recreation purposes. However, Under HSC 11358, if someone between 18-20 years is found cultivating marijuana, this is a minor offense and is punishable by a fine of up to $100.
Under the same statute, it is a misdemeanor for someone at the age of 21 or older to grow more than six marijuana plants. Such a crime is punishable by county jail imprisonment for a maximum of six months, a fine of $500, or both.
HSC 11359: Possession of Marijuana with the Intent to Sell
Although marijuana is legal in California, it is restricted to personal use other than selling. Therefore, it is a criminal offense to be found in possession of marijuana with the intention of selling.
For a prosecutor to successfully prosecute someone under this statute, he or she must prove the following:
- You were possessing an illegal substance
- You had the knowledge about its presence
- You knew that the substance was controlled
- You had the intention of selling it illegally (without the required local and state marijuana sale license)
- The substance was cannabis
- You had a usable amount of marijuana under your possession
Penalties for Possession of Marijuana for Sale in California
In California, it is a misdemeanor to possess marijuana with the intention of selling it. The potential penalty that follows includes imprisonment in a county jail for six months, a maximum fine of $500, or both.
The offense can turn to be a felony based on the following:
- If the defendant has a previous conviction for a serious violent felony such as murder, sex crimes against a minor below 14 years, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or a sex crime that obligates you to register as a sex offender
- The defendant has two or more previous misdemeanor conviction for marijuana possession
- The defendant possessed with the intention, knowledge or support of a sale to someone below eighteen years
If one faces any of the above-stated scenarios, the kind of penalty that follows includes imprisonment in a county jail for sixteen months, two years, or three years.
HSC 11360: Selling Marijuana
Under this law, it is unlawful to sell, give away, import, or transport marijuana for sale without a state license or any other license required by the law. The only exception that exists is when one is handling marijuana for medical usage, which also applies to primary caregivers who are transporting marijuana for their patients.
For the selling, transferring, giving away, or importing marijuana to apply, the following must apply:
- Selling, furnishing, importing, administering, or giving away a usable amount of marijuana
- Failing to have a license that proves your eligibility in the distribution of cannabis in California
- The knowledge about the controlled nature of the substance at hand
Penalties for Selling Marijuana
Most defendants who are convicted with the sale of marijuana commit a misdemeanor. Such an offense is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum of six months, and a fine that can amount up to $500.
Defendants can be convicted with a felony if any of the following applies:
- A prior conviction with a violent criminal crime such as gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, sex crimes that expects one to register as a sex offender, sex crimes associated with a child below 14 years, and murder
- Two or more previous conviction under HS 11380: Sale or transportation of marijuana
- A history of attempting to import, offer to import or transporting marijuana out or from California, which is more than an ounce or more than four grams for concentrated cannabis, and
- Selling, attempting to sell, or offering to sell marijuana to someone below eighteen years
Committing a felony under this statute is punishable by:
- Imprisonment in a county jail for two, three or four years
- Collateral consequences such as disclosing your convictions during a job application
- A lifetime ban from carrying or owning a firearm in California
HSC 11361: Selling Marijuana to a Minor
The effort to protect the involvement of minors in any marijuana business is enforced through HSC 1136. This is one of the many statues that protect the minor from involvement in any illegal business.
The only exception that applies to this law is the involvement of a minor in handling medical marijuana with his or her parent’s consent.
There is a range of actions that this statute prohibits. These actions apply if the defendant is eighteen years or older and when the victim is under the age of eighteen years, and include the following broad categories:
- Hiring a minor to distribute marijuana
- Selling, giving or offering cannabis to a minor or
- Inducing a minor to use marijuana
Penalties for Violating HSC 11361
In California, violation of HSC 11361 is a felony that attracts imprisonment in the California State prison. Violation of this statute subjects the offender to three, five, or seven years of incarceration, with the exemption of an offense of giving or offering to give marijuana to a minor below 14 years.
Based on your criminal history, you might be eligible for formal probation in place of your sentence. The sentence remains to be a felony, but you should serve your prison sentence for at least a year and serve probation for three to five years.
During probation, one should consider the following conditions:
- Community service
- Drug counseling
- Meetings with the parole officer
- The obligation to stay away from minors
Violation of any of the above-stated conditions might prompt the judge to reinstate your prison sentence.
HSC 11362.5: Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana is legal in California under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (CUA). The laws and provisions of CUA are highlighted in HSC 11362.5.
Under this statute, one has the entitlement to use medical marijuana legally based on the following:
- If a Californian physician has licensed one to use the drug
- If one has approval or recommendation to use marijuana either verbally or in writing
- If marijuana is used for the treatment of a severe medical condition
The following are some conditions that CUA defines as severe medical conditions that require marijuana treatment:
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Severe nausea
- Persistent muscle spasms, which are not limited to spams associated with multiple sclerosis
- Seizures which are not limited to those associated with epilepsy
For one to qualify to use medical marijuana in California, one must have a medical marijuana ID card. The card is necessary for proving to law enforcement officers that your marijuana possession is meant for medicinal purposes and restrain them from arresting you if found possessing, cultivating, or transporting marijuana. However, they might arrest you if the following applies:
- The information provided in the card is not true
- You obtained the card fraudulently
- You are violating a regulation that CUA has provided
Some other rules and regulations fall under HSC 1162 related to the handling or possession of marijuana. These rules are as follows:
- Restriction from smoking, vaporizing, or ingesting cannabis or its by-product in a public place. This is a minor offense and attracts a maximum fine of $100
- Limit from smoking or vaporizing of marijuana in a non-smoking area or near 1,000 feet of a youth center, school, or daycare center while children are within the area. Such offense an infraction and attracts a potential fine of $250
- Restriction from the possession of concentrated cannabis within a school, youth center, or daycare premises while there are kids within the vicinity. Such an offense attracts $100 fine
- The rights of employers to ensure that their workplace is drug and alcohol-free zone by forbidding cannabis use among the employees
- The capacity of landlords and other related parties from restricting or prohibiting cannabis use on their previously owned property
California Marijuana Laws that are Related to Driving
As stated earlier, most of the marijuana laws fall under the Health and safety code. However, a couple of laws fall under the California vehicle code. These laws are as follows:
- Vehicle Code 23152 (f): Driving under the influence of drugs
- Vehicle Code 23152 (g): DUI of both drugs and alcohol
- Vehicle Code 23612: Refusal enhancement
- Vehicle Code 23221 – 23229: California’s open container laws
Find an LA Criminal Defense Firm Near Me
There are quite a handful of marijuana laws in California. These laws can confuse any arrestee when they cannot determine which code applies to them or which law that the prosecutor will consider. That’s why you should hire an attorney to help in handling any case related to these laws. The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm can guarantee an excellent defense attorney and ensure that everything turns out as expected. If you are in Los Angeles, CA, contact us at 310-935-1675 and let one of our attorneys help you.