California State Laws

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California Marijuana Laws & Penalties

While medical marijuana may be legal within the state of California, recreational use is not. The following is a breakdown of offenses, penalties as well as the legislature that binds the state to the laws.     
 
Offense Penalty Incarceration   Max. Fine  

Possession

Personal Use

28.5 grams or less Infraction N/A $ 100
28.5 grams or less, over 18 years, and occurred on school grounds Misdemeanor 10 days $ 500
28.5 grams or less, under 18 years Misdemeanor 10 days* $ 250
More than 28.5 grams Misdemeanor 6 months $ 500

With Intent to Distribute

Any amount Felony 16 months - 3 years N/A
*Detention center

Sale or Delivery

Any amount Felony 2 - 4 years N/A
Gift of 28.5 grams or less Misdemeanor N/A $ 100
Over 18 years to an individual 14-17 years Felony 3 - 5 years $ 0
Over 18 years to an individual under 14 years Felony 3 - 7 years $ 0

Cultivation

Any amount Felony 16 months - 3 years N/A

Hash & Concentrates

Possession N/A 1 year $ 500
Unauthorized manufacture N/A 16 months - 3 years $ 500
Chemical manufacture N/A 3 - 7 years $ 50,000

Paraphernalia

Sale, delivery, possession with intent, and manufacture with intent Misdemeanor 15 days - 6 months $ 500
Involving a minor at least 3 years junior Misdemeanor 1 year $ 1,000

Forfeiture

Vehicles and other property may be seized for controlled substance violations.

Miscellaneous

Using a minor in the unlawful sale or transport of marijuana is a Felony punishable by 3-7 years imprisonment. Inducing a minor to use marijuana is also a Felony punishable by 3-7 years imprisonment.
Any violation of the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act results in a fine up to $150.
A person who participates in the illegal marketing of marijuana is liable for civil damages.
It is a Misdemeanor to loiter in a public place with the intent to commit certain controlled substances offenses.
A controlled substance conviction can result in suspension of driving privileges.

Penalty Details

Marijuana is a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance under the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

See

  • California Health & Safety Code § 11054(d)(13) Web Search

Possession for Personal Use

Possession of up to and including 28.5 grams of marijuana is an infraction punishable by a fine of $100. Possession of more than 28.5 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine up to $500. If the amount possessed is 28.5 grams or less but the person is 18 years of age or older and the possession occurred on school grounds, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 10 days imprisonment and/or a fine up to $500. If the offender was younger than 18 years of age, then the offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $250 for the first offense and a fine up to $500 or commitment to a detention center for up to 10 days.

See

  • California Health & Safety Code § 11357 Web Search

Possession with Intent to Distribute

Possession with intent to distribute any amount of marijuana is a felony punishable by 16-36 months imprisonment.

See

Sale/Delivery

Sale or delivery of any amount of marijuana is a felony punishable by 2-4 years imprisonment. However, a gift or mere transportation of 28.5 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by fine up to $100. If a person is arrested for this misdemeanor, they shall be released upon presentation of sufficient identification and signing of a written promise to appear in court.

See

  • California Health & Safety Code § 11360 Web Search

Delivery or attempted delivery without compensation of any amount of marijuana by an individual aged 18 years or older to an individual who is 14-17 years old is a felony punishable by 3-5 years imprisonment. Delivery or attempted delivery without compensation of any amount of marijuana by an individual aged 18 years or older to an individual who is under the age of 14 is a felony punishable by 3-7 years imprisonment. Sale or attempted sale of any amount of marijuana by an individual aged 18 years or older to an individual under 18 years of age is a felony punishable by 3-7 years imprisonment.

See

  • California Health & Safety Code § 11361 Web Search

Cultivation

Cultivation of any amount of marijuana is a felony punishable by 16-36 months imprisonment.

See

Hash & Concentrates

In California, hashish or concentrates are referred to as "concentrated cannabis". Possession of concentrated cannabis is punishable by a fine of $500 and a term of imprisonment no longer than 1 year.

See

  • California Health & Safety Code §11006.5 Web Search
  • California Health & Safety Code §11357(a) Web Search

The penalties associated with the manufacture of hashish or concentrates depends on what method was used during the manufacture. If the manufacturing process involved extraction chemicals, such as butane, then it is considered manufacture by means of chemical synthesis of a controlled substance. Manufacture by means of chemical synthesis of a controlled substance carries a fine no greater than $50,000 and a term of imprisonment of 3, 5, or 7 years as determined by the court. If the manufacturing process utilized screens, presses, or any other means not involving a chemical synthesis, then the offense is considered unauthorized processing of marijuana. Unauthorized processing of marijuana carries a term of imprisonment 16 months, 2 years, or three years as determined by the court.

See

  • California Health & Safety Code §11379.6(a) Web Search
  • California Health & Safety Code §11358 Web Search
  • California Penal Code §1170(h) Web Search
  • People v. Bergen, 166 Cal.App.4th 161 (2008) Web Search

Apart from the provisions mentioned, concentrated cannabis is included within the definition of marijuana for all other offenses, such as intent to sell, providing to a minor, etc. For information concerning those offenses, check the California marijuana laws section of this website.

See

  • California Health & Safety Code §11018 Web Search

Paraphernalia

There is no penalty for the simple possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Sale, delivery, possession with intent to sell or deliver, and manufacture with intent to sell or deliver marijuana paraphernalia is a misdemeanor punishable by 15-180 days imprisonment and/or a fine of $30-$500. Delivery of marijuana paraphernalia by an individual aged 18 years or older to a minor at least 3 years his junior is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and/or a fine up to $1,000.

See

  • California Health & Safety Code § 11364.7 Web Search
  • California Health & Safety Code § 11374 Web Search

Sentencing

Possession for personal use, using or being under the influence of marijuana, presence in a room where a marijuana violation occurs, or cultivation of marijuana if the amount is for personal use are offenses that are eligible for deferred entry of judgment if certain conditions are met. These include: no prior convictions for controlled substances violations; the offense charged did not involve violence; there is no evidence that narcotics or restricted dangerous drugs were involved; the offender has never had probation or parole revoked; the offender has not completed this deferred entry within 5 years of the time of the charged offense; and the offender has no felony convictions within 5 years of the time of the charged offense.

See

Probation may be available for marijuana offenses. As a condition of probation for controlled substances violations, offenders must participate in education or treatment if the court determines that it will benefit the offender. Sentences for many violations may not be eligible for probation or suspension if the offender has been previously convicted of a felony offense involving a controlled substance.

See

Forfeiture

Vehicles and other property may be seized for controlled substance violations. Upon conviction for sale, possession with intent to distribute, or cultivation of marijuana, the seized property becomes the property of the state. If law enforcement seizes property which it does not intend to use as evidence and the seizing agency does not refer the case to the Attorney General for forfeiture proceedings within 15 days, the property must be returned. If the Attorney General intends to pursue a forfeiture proceeding, then a person claiming interest in the property has 30 days from actual notice or publication of notice of the proceedings to respond.

See

  • California Health & Safety Code §§ 11469-11495 Web Search

Miscellaneous

Involvement of a minor in a drug offense

Using a minor in the unlawful sale or transport of marijuana is a felony punishable by 3-7 years imprisonment. Inducing a minor to use marijuana is also a felony punishable by 3-7 years imprisonment.

See

  • California Health & Safety Code § 11361 Web Search
Drug program fee

Any violation of the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act results in a fine up to $150 in addition to the authorized fine for the offense.

See

  • California Health & Safety Code § 11372.7 Web Search
Drug Dealer Liability Act

A person who participates in the illegal marketing of marijuana is liable for civil damages caused by these actions.

See

  • California Health & Safety Code §§ 11700-11717 Web Search
Loitering for drug activities

It is a misdemeanor to loiter in a public place with the intent to commit certain controlled substances offenses.

See

  • California Health & Safety Code §§ 11530-11538 Web Search
Suspension of Driving Privileges

A controlled substance conviction can result in suspension of driving privileges for up to 3 years if the use of a motor vehicle was used in or incidental to the offense. For each drug-related conviction that a person 13-20 years old may receive, their driving privileges are suspended for 1 year, but if the person does not yet have the privilege to drive, suspension will begin at the time the person becomes legally eligible to drive.

See

DECRIMINALIZATION

The state has decriminalized marijuana to some degree. Typically, decriminalization means no prison time or criminal record for first-time possession of a small amount for personal consumption. The conduct is treated like a minor traffic violation.

HEMP

This state has an active hemp industry or has authorized research. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa L. that contains minimal (less than 1%) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Various parts of the plant can be utilized in the making of textiles, paper, paints, clothing, plastics, cosmetics, foodstuffs, insulation, animal feed, and other products. For more information see NORML's Industrial Use section.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

This state has medical marijuana laws enacted. Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant and emerging research suggests that marijuana's medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors, and are neuroprotective. For more information see NORML's Medical Marijuana section.

 

California

Ballot Proposition 215  (45 KB) -- Approved Nov. 5, 1996 by 56% of voters Effective: Nov. 6, 1996

Removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess a "written or oral recommendation" from their physician that he or she "would benefit from medical marijuana." Patients diagnosed with any debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been "deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician" are afforded legal protection under this act.

Approved Conditions: AIDS, anorexia, arthritis, cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, migraine, persistent muscle spasms, including spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, seizures, including seizures associated with epilepsy, severe nausea; Other chronic or persistent medical symptoms.

Amended: Senate Bill 420  (70 KB) Effective: Jan. 1, 2004

Imposes statewide guidelines outlining how much medicinal marijuana patients may grow and possess.

Possession/Cultivation: Qualified patients and their primary caregivers may possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana and/or six mature (or 12 immature) marijuana plants. However, S.B. 420 allows patients to possess larger amounts of marijuana when recommended by a physician. The legislation also allows counties and municipalities to approve and/or maintain local ordinances permitting patients to possess larger quantities of medicinal pot than allowed under the new state guidelines.

S.B. 420 also grants implied legal protection to the state's medicinal marijuana dispensaries, stating, "Qualified patients, persons with valid identification cards, and the designated primary caregivers of qualified patients ... who associate within the state of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, shall not solely on the basis of that fact be subject to state criminal sanctions."

Challenge to Possession Limits: On Jan. 21, 2010, the California Supreme Court affirmed (S164830  (300 KB)) the May 22, 2008 Second District Court of Appeals ruling  (50 KB) in the Kelly Case that the possession limits set by SB 420 violate the California constitution because the voter-approved Prop. 215 can only be amended by the voters.

 

ProCon.org contacted the California Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) on Dec. 6, 2010 to ask 1) how the ruling affected the implementation of the program, and 2) what instructions are given to patients regarding possession limits. A California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Office of Public Affairs representative wrote the following in a Dec. 7, 2010 email to ProCon.org: "The role of MMP under Senate Bill 420 is to implement the State Medical Marijuana ID Card Program in all California counties. CDPH does not oversee the amounts that a patient may possess or grow. When asked what a patient can possess, patients are referred to www.courtinfo.ca.gov, case S164830 which is the Kelly case, changing the amounts a patient can possess from 8 oz, 6 mature plants or 12 immature plants to 'the amount needed for a patient’s personal use.' MMP can only cite what the law says."

 

According to a Jan. 21, 2010 article titled "California Supreme Court Further Clarifies Medical Marijuana Laws," by Aaron Smith, California Policy Director at the Marijuana Policy Project, the impact of the ruling is that people growing more than 6 mature or 12 immature plants are still subject to arrest and prosecution, but they will be allowed to use a medical necessity defense in court.]

 

Attorney General's Guidelines: On Aug. 25, 2008, California Attorney General Jerry Brown issued guidelines for law enforcement and medical marijuana patients to clarify the state's laws. Read more about the guidelines here.

 

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