California currently permits the use of marijuana for both recreational and medical purposes. In 1996, California residents cast their votes in favor of medical cannabis legalization, which made California the first state to legalize the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The marijuana regulations in California are constantly changing and include a complicated enterprise involving cultivators, sellers, transporters, consumers, and everybody else engaged in the legal cannabis industry.

Whether you're looking to open a dispensary or just want to know where to get your hands on some recreational weed in California, you'll want to be up-to-date on the latest California marijuana laws. However, if you are arrested or charged with illegal possession, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana in Bakersfield, you can contact us at the Koenig Law Office for legal representation.

California Marijuana Possession Laws

Legal recreational marijuana use in California is governed by the provisions under Health and Safety Code (HSC) 11357.

Since January 1st, 2018, adults over the age of 21 in California were allowed to legally possess up to 28.5 grams, or slightly more than one ounce, of cannabis for their individual use.  The same goes for having up to 8g of hashish or concentrated cannabis oil.

Keep in mind that there are limitations on where marijuana can be used. Cannabis and marijuana products should be vaped, smoked, or used privately with the premises owner's permission. In other words, your employer or landlord could forbid you from using marijuana on the premises where you work or live.

Also, marijuana use is prohibited in the following places:

  • Any public space (including streets, parks, bars, stores, restaurants, offices, etcetera.), or
  • Any public place where it is illegal to smoke tobacco, which includes cannabis retailers.
  • Having open cannabis containers in public is likewise prohibited, even though you're not using the drug yourself.

Illegal Possession of Marijuana

When it comes to marijuana, anything above 28.5 grams of the cannabis flower is considered a misdemeanor offense and can result in fines of approximately $500, a maximum of 6 months in jail, or both.

If the marijuana amount is 28.5g or less and the individual is 18 or over and the cannabis possession occurred on school property, the individual will be charged with a misdemeanor and could go to jail for up to ten days or pay fines amounting to $500. Possessing marijuana or cannabis concentrate on a K 12 school ground while classes are in session is also a violation of the law

If the perpetrator is under the age of 18, the act is classified as an infraction, and the punishment can include a maximum of 40 hours of performing community service or attending drug counseling for 8 hours. This is as per:

  • California HSC Section 11362.1(a)(i).
  • California HSC Section 11357(c).
  • California HSC Section 11357(a)(i).
  • California HSC Section § 11357(b)(i)(ii).

Penalties For Illegal Possession of Cannabis in California

Adults over the age of 21 in California are permitted to carry a maximum of 28.5 grams of marijuana flower or 8g of hashish. If you're found with more marijuana than what is lawfully allowed, it is considered a possession offense.

Possession of marijuana is typically a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $500 as well as a potential sentence of 6 months behind bars. If the offender was discovered on school grounds or when there is evidence of possession with the intent to sell, the penalties could increase.

The penalties are less serious if the offender is under 21. It is often an offense that carries a fine. Underage offenders are typically required to participate in community service and drug counseling.

On the other hand, if the juvenile was found to be in a car at the moment of their interaction with police officers, they could be subject to more severe punishments, such as a fine of $250 and 10 days spent in a juvenile detention facility. The juvenile who was found guilty could also have their qualification for a driver's license delayed or have their license suspended for a year.

Cannabis can only be used recreationally on private premises. consumption is prohibited within a 1,000-foot radius of any youth center, school, or daycare center when children are present.  Consumption within the premises is punishable by a 10-day jail sentence and a maximum fine of $500.

Possession With Intent to Sell

Cannabis sales were made legal by Proposition 64. However, this only applies to businesses that have obtained the necessary local and state permits and are operating lawfully.

Therefore, following HSC Section 11359 HS (possession of cannabis for sale laws), having cannabis with the purpose of selling it without a legal permit is still prohibited.

HSC 11359, possession for distribution without a permit, is charged as a misdemeanor for the majority of adult defendants and carries the following legal consequences:

  • A county jail sentence of months, or
  • Maximum fines of up to $500.

However, it is considered a felony to possess cannabis without a permit to sell it if any one of the following applies:

  • You have previously been convicted of one of several exceptionally severe violent crimes, such as murder, sexual assault, sexual crimes against children under 14, gross vehicular manslaughter while inebriated, or sex offenses that necessitate registering as a sexual offender.
  • You've previously been convicted of two or more misdemeanors for selling or possessing marijuana.
  • You had marijuana with the intent to sell it to an individual under the age of 18 and did so knowingly.

Possession of marijuana with the intent to sell carries a 16-month sentence, or 2 or 3 years in jail, for such defendants. Circumstantial evidence (also known as "indicia of sale") is frequently used to demonstrate the intent to distribute cannabis without licensing.

Such evidence could consist of:

  • A significant amount of cannabis.
  • The presence of objects like scales and baggies.
  • Pot separated into several containers or bags.
  • The existence of money, weapons, or both.
  • The arresting officer's belief that the cannabis was intended for sale.

California Hash and Concentrates

High quantities of THC can be found in concentrates and hash, making them a more potent form of marijuana. Possession of over 8 grams of hash oil, hashish, or another sort of cannabis concentrate is illegal in the state for anybody who is not a medicinal marijuana patient, according to the state's cannabis regulations.

In California, possessing more than a permitted amount of hash or any other concentrate is considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail along with fines amounting to $500.

Manufacturing concentrates without licensing is illegal, and the consequences for doing so vary depending on the technique utilized. Anyone who makes illegal hash or concentrates by chemical synthesis is subject to a $50,000 fine and a 3 to 5-year prison sentence. Any other method of illegal hash production, such as pressing or screening, can result in a sentence of 16 months to 3 years behind bars.

Marijuana Paraphernalia

In California, there are no legal repercussions for having marijuana paraphernalia. However, it is illegal to carry marijuana paraphernalia with the intent to sell, deliver, or distribute it. The maximum sentence for the crime is 180 days in prison, and there are also possible fines of $500.

But if you deliver marijuana equipment to a child or someone who is at least 3 years younger, you'll be subject to one year in jail or a maximum fine of $1,000.

California's Law on Marijuana Cultivation

Under Proposition 64's amendments to California HSC 11358 (marijuana cultivation), most individuals aged 21 years or older can grow no more than six marijuana plants. Unless local laws specifically authorize outdoor cultivation, growers should confine their marijuana to indoor environments.

Whether they're cultivated outdoors or indoors, marijuana plants have to meet the following:

  • A secure place that is inaccessible to children.
  • In a safe location.

Persons under the age of 21 who grow or cultivate any amount of marijuana do so illegally. They could be compelled to participate in drug counseling sessions and complete community service if they are younger than the age of 18. Individuals over the age of 18 (but under the age of 21) who grow marijuana illegally face a fine of no more than $100.

Additionally, it is still illegal for adults to grow more than six marijuana plants. The majority of defendants who process, dry, harvest, or otherwise grow more than six marijuana plants would be convicted of a misdemeanor and could spend no more than six months behind bars as well as pay hefty fines of no more than $500.

However, the following offenders could face California felony charges for growing more than six marijuana plants:

  • Individuals with a history of serious violent offenses.
  • Registered sexual offenders.
  • Individuals who have had multiple prior criminal convictions for growing more than 6 marijuana plants.
  • Individuals who engage in marijuana cultivation practices in violation of various California environmental regulations.

California's Medical Marijuana Laws

Proposition 215 was approved by voters, making medical cannabis legal. It is referred to as the 1996 Compassionate Use Act abbreviated as "CUA".  This act is outlined in California's HSC 11362.5 and related provisions.

Two decades following Prop 215, Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana use for recreational purposes, was approved. However, California's medicinal marijuana legislation and system are all still important for public health even when recreational marijuana is permitted.

For starters, there are no restrictions on the amount of marijuana that can be used for recreational purposes. With a doctor's approval, patients who use marijuana for medical purposes can keep as much of the drug on their person as their respective condition requires.

Additionally, a physician's recommendation is required for anyone under the age of 21 to consume or grow medical marijuana and, if they're minors below 18 years, the consent of their parent or legal caregiver.

Who is Authorized to Use Medical Marijuana?

According to the CUA, an individual who meets the requirements can obtain a medical marijuana ID if their physician has prescribed it or given the approval for the treatment of one of several severe illnesses, including:

  • Any incapacitating condition, such as severe nausea or chronic pain.
  • AIDS.
  • Arthritis.
  • Anorexia.
  • Cachexia.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Cancer.
  • Migraines.
  • Chronic Muscle Spasms.
  • Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Seizures.

Primary Caregiver

To be considered a "primary caregiver," you should meet all of the following conditions:

  • Entrusted with the ongoing care of the patient's living arrangements, health, and/or welfare.
  • They have been appointed by the patient.

Legal Options For Patients and Caregivers Using Medical Marijuana

California's medicinal marijuana regulations allow for the cultivation, possession, administration, and transportation of medicinal marijuana so long as it is:

  • To be used solely by the patient.
  • In a quantity that's logically related to the individual's ongoing medical requirements.

However, they are not permitted to sell marijuana under any circumstances. Also, you cannot acquire or grow more than what is logically appropriate for the individual's medical use. As of January 1, 2018, all patients who rely on medical marijuana under Proposition 64 should get a new doctor's recommendation.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Under California law, medical marijuana can also be distributed through cooperatives, collectives, or medical marijuana dispensaries that are not for profit.

The functioning of dispensaries is subject to stringent national, regional, and local regulations. However, with a valid ID card, medical marijuana users and their caregivers could receive marijuana from legally licensed dispensaries or purchase it for a discounted price. It is uncertain if medicinal marijuana dispensaries would remain open permanently as a result of Proposition 64 or if they will be absorbed into the new industry for legal recreational cannabis.

Frequently Asked Questions on CA Marijuana Laws

Below are a few commonly asked questions on California marijuana laws:

What Penalties Apply If a Minor Purchases Marijuana?

Anyone above the age of 18 who sells marijuana to a juvenile commits a felony under California HSC 11361. Proposition 64's legalization of marijuana has had no impact on this provision.

California HSC 11361 also considers it a crime to exploit a minor illegally to:

  • Transport.
  • Sell.
  • Carry.
  • Give out.
  • Administer.
  • Furnish.
  • Peddle.
  • Prepare for sale of any type or amount of marijuana.

Offenders of the provisions of California HSC 11361 are subject to state prison terms rather than jail terms.

If the juvenile is under the age of 14, he or she faces 3, 5, or 7 years in prison. If the child is above 14, but under 18, the punishment is 3, 4, or 5 years of imprisonment.

Is Using Marijuana While Driving illegal?

Driving while in possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana is against California VC 23222(b). This provision is similar to the one that makes it illegal to have an open alcoholic container while operating your car. Proposition 64 did not affect this legislation.

Marijuana possession while driving is illegal. It is punishable by a hefty fine of no more than $100. The same penalties apply for driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. Blood tests are performed on defendants to determine their blood THC concentration.

Can I Grow Marijuana At Home for Non-Medicinal Purposes?

Yes. Growing marijuana for recreational use is legal under California law. Individuals over the age of 21 can cultivate a maximum of 6 marijuana plants in their residences.

Is Marijuana Transportation Legal in California?

No, it's against the law to transport marijuana under California law. It is against the law to operate a motor vehicle with marijuana within reach. Driving while under the influence of cannabis could be punished as a minor offense with a hefty fine of $100. If more than 28.5 grams are involved, or if a minor is involved, the punishments are more severe.

Is Marijuana Gifting Illegal?

Cannabis can be purchased as a gift for other people under the legal limits under California's marijuana regulations by recreational users. However, they are limited to purchasing not more than 28.5 grams. Anyone who distributes more than 28.5 grams of marijuana to another person risks being convicted of a misdemeanor crime and paying a fine of around $100.

Giving marijuana to a juvenile, regardless of the amount, is illegal under California HSC 11361. If the juvenile is older than 14 years but younger than 18, the punishment is often between 3 to 5 years behind bars. In cases involving minors under the age of 14 years, the adult perpetrator will spend 3 to 7 years of imprisonment.

Are There Any Repercussions on a Defendant’s Immigration Status?

Marijuana sales, as well as possession with intent to sell, are considered "aggravated felonies" under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This is applicable whether your conviction was under Federal or California law.

Deportation is one of the immigration repercussions of a conviction for a crime that is considered an aggravated felony. Therefore, if police officers accuse you of a marijuana-related felony and you're an undocumented foreigner, it is strongly advised that you speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer.

Find a Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Near Me

Although it remains illegal at the federal level, marijuana has been legalized in California, which has undoubtedly led to some confusion. Nonetheless, you need to bear in mind that there are ways you could violate marijuana state laws, including possessing or cultivating more marijuana than is permitted or failing to adhere to the rules that govern operations involving commercial marijuana.

If you are facing charges under the state's marijuana laws, you can contact the Koenig Law Office to guarantee that your constitutional rights are safeguarded. Contact us today at 661-793-7222. We serve the City of Bakersfield.