Calfornia legalized marijuana possession for most people by passing Prop 215 in November 2016. Although marijuana use is illegal in California, most personal use is more or less decriminalized, requiring only that you pay a small fine.

It is still illegal to sell marijuana, or have more than 1 ounce or marijuana. If you are arrested for possession of marijuana or related crimes, contact a criminal defense attorney in California who defends marijuana charges laws to give yourself the best chance to avoid a criminal conviction and a drug charge on your record.

How much marijuana is legal in California?

Those who are 21 years old or over are legally permitted to possess:

  • Up to 1 ounce of dried marijuana
  • Up to 8 grams of marijuana concentrate, THC oil, or solid forms of cannabis concentrate (butane hash oil / shatter / wax)
  • You can grow up to 6 plants on your property in a secure location.

What is illegal under current California Marijuana laws?

  • It is illegal to smoke marijuana in public.
  • It is illegal to have an “open container” of marijuana in your possession, or as a driver or passenger in a vehicle.
  • You can’t be under 21 with weed.

Older California Marijuana Laws

Before fully legalizing, back in 2012, California has downgraded the personal use of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction. If you were caught with possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana, you’ll get a citation to appear in court, but a conviction won’t appear on your criminal record. There were no arrests for this type of possession unless police have probable cause to believe you intended to sell the marijuana.

Possessing larger amounts of marijuana has more serious consequences, however. Any type of large-scale possession can lead to jail time, and conviction of marijuana-related crime will remain on your permanent criminal record for the rest of your life. Intention to sell is particularly serious, as this is a felony rather than a misdemeanor. However, possession of paraphenalia such as marijuana pipes is not illegal, although it is illegal to make such paraphenalia or to sell it.

California Marijuana Posession Penalties

There are still criminal penalties for possession of greater than one ounce or marijuana under California statutes.

Possession of more than an ounce of weed is a misdeameanor criminal charge punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine.

California takes marijuana use by minors especially seriously. Minors in possession of any amount of marijuana are subject to fines. If you are under 18, there are additional penalties that may include drug counseling and community service requirements, as well as loss of driver’s license.

Police have probable cause to make an arrest for possession with intent to sell if the person has scales or baggies in his or her possession. Selling or giving away less than one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor.

Driving under the influence of marijuana is different than merely possessing it in your car. It’s against the law and you can be charged with DUI. The police and courts treat driving under the influence of marijuana the same way they do driving udner the influence of alcohol. The police can make you take field sobriety tests and/or give you a blood or urine test, after which you can be arrested for DUI. All DUI convictions lead to jail time. A first offense usually requires 48 hours in jail, a second offense up to 96 hours in jail and a third offense up to 120 days. You will also lose your license and have to complete a DUI program in order to get it back.

Medical Marijuana Laws

California allows people to possess marijuana for medical purposes and has done so since 1996. Patients must get a certification from their doctor stating they need marijuana for medical purposes. The patient and his or her doctor then must apply for a medical marijuana card in order for the patient to legally use marijuana for this purpose.

Hemp Laws

Hemp may be imported into California but may not be grown in California. In 2007, then-Governor Schwarzenneger vetoed legislation that would ahve allowed hemp to be grown in California.

California Marijuana Possession Charge – Defenses

First offenders can enter diversion programs, which allow them to complete rehab for marijuana addiction instead of going to jail for possession of marijuana. People who are accused of DUI may also be able to defend themselves by stating that they had used marijuana in the past but were not under its influence at the time of their arrest.

If you are accused of marijuana DUI, one possible defense is stating that you had used marijuana in the past but were not under its influence at the time of their arrest. Testing for THC is still not accurate, and proving impairment by marijuana is not simple for the state to do. It is worth discussing these defense options with a criminal defense trial lawyer.