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Marijuana Laws

In CA, as of January 1, 2011 and under the Health & Safety Code 11357b, possession of an ounce or less (that’s 28.5 grams or below) of marijuana is an infraction that is punishable by a $100 (plus fees, which could raise it to a maximum of $485) maximum fine, with no criminal record.

Before this, marijuana possession of the same amount was classified as a misdemeanor. Convictions under this ruling are removed from the record after a two year period (Health & Safety Code Sections 11361.5 and 11361.7).

Possession of more than one ounce is still classified as a misdemeanor and incurs a fine of up to $500 and six months in jail, under Health & Safety Code 11357c. Under Health & Safety Code 11357a, possession of concentrated cannabis or hashish is an optional misdemeanor or felony charge. First and second-time offenders are protected under Prop 36, which states that they may demand a treatment program as an alternative to any jail time. In this case, any conviction will be removed from the record after successful completion of the treatment program. Similarly, under Penal Code 1000, all other offenders can avoid incarceration by making a pre-guilty plea, which will dismiss their charges after completing a diversion program.

Vehicle Code 23222 states that possession of one ounce or less found in a vehicle may also be charged.

Keep in mind that no incarceration is allowed for possessing under one ounce of marijuana in CA. However, be aware that cops will often skirt this issue by charging offenders with felony intent to sell.

What is Marijuana?

California law (H&SC 11018) defines marijuana as “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or its resin. It does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the steilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination.”

Marijuana Possession with Intent to Sell

Possession with Intent to sell is a felony regardless of the amount of marijuana (Health & Safety Code 11359). As a side note, most police officers charge offenders with intent to sell if they come across any of the following items: scales, quantities of cash, packing materials, large quantities of marijuana, address books, pagers, etc.

Marijuana Cultivation Laws

Health & safety Code 11358 states that cultivation of any amount is a felony. Penal Code 1000 does protect personal use cultivation to the degree that offenders may be eligible for replacing incarceration with a treatment or diversion program.

Medical Marijuana Laws

Under Health & Safety Code 11362.5, also known as Prop 215 and The Compassionate Use Act of 1996, medical marijuana patients and their caregivers can possess and cultivate marijuana with a physician’s approval. Health & Safety Code 11362.7-11362.83 allows cultivation of 6 mature or 12 immature plants per patient. Under no conditions can a medical marijuana patient distribute or sell marijuana.

Sale, Transportation or Distribution of Marijuana

Health & Safety Code Sections 11360 makes the sale, transportation or distribution of marijuana a felony. However, transporting or giving away (not selling) less than one ounce of marijuana is classified as a misdemeanor and punishable with a $100 maximum fine.

Sale or Distribution to minors is a felony under Health & Safety Code 11361.

Marijuana Paraphernalia Laws

It is illegal to sell or manufacture marijuana paraphernalia, but it is not illegal to possess it (Health & Safety Code 11364). However, all paraphernalia is subject to seizure by police authorities.

Driving Suspension for Minors Caught with Marijuana

In this case, a minor is defined as anyone less than 21 years of age. Any minor that is convicted of ANY drug or alcohol offense will have their driver’s license suspended for a period of 12 months. This is regardless of whether or not the offense was driving related. If the minor proves a “critical need to drive,” Vehicle Code 13202.5 allows the court to issue the minor restricted license privileges.

Marijuana DUI

It is illegal to drive while under the influence of any drug or alcohol, including marijuana (Vehicle Code 23152). This statute does not define what stipulates being “under the influence.” Instead, officers may issue a field sobriety test and may also require an offender to submit to a blood or urine test (Vehicle Code 23612).

Wondering which test to choose?

It is best to know how long marijuana stays in your system to answer this dilemma. In short, marijuana is detectable in urine for longer periods of time than in blood. This means that a positive result on a urine test provides less proof of recent use. If you have not smoked recently, it is best to consent to a blood test, which will likely be negative. If you have smoked recently, it is best to consent to a urine test. The result will be positive, but it also allows room for questioning impairment level.

Marijuana Found in a Vehicle

Under Vehicle Code 23222, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana found in vehicles is punishable by a $100 maximum misdemeanor fine.

Forfeiture of Property

In opposition to federal law, California l;aw demands a conviction for forfeiture of property involved in a drug crime. Similarly, CA does not allow for forfeiture of personal real estate involved in cultivation. However, vehicles can be forfeited if more than 10 pounds of marijuana are found within (Health & Safety Code 11470).

Federal Laws on Marjuana

Under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is illegal. Federal charges, however, are usually brought only where commercial distribution is suspected.

Medical Marijuana patients cannot be protected by CA law while on federal park land or forest land in CA. This means that it may not be the best idea to go camping with your medical marijuana.

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