California Marijuana Laws: Is Marijuana Legal in California?

Possession of marijuana is illegal in California unless you have a recommendation from your doctor. There are two proposed changes to California’s marijuana laws. First, there is a bill in the California Assembly titled the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act. Second, there is proposition 19—titled the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannibis Act of 2010—that will be on the November 2, 2010 ballot. Currently, polls suggest that the ballot initiative is likely to pass. If the assembly bill is approved by the state government or if the ballot initiative is approved by the voters, then the sale and possession of marijuana will be legal (without a doctor’s recommendation) according to state law. However, marijuana would still be illegal under federal law.

Possession of Marijuana in California
If you are arrested for charges relating to possession of marijuana, and do not have a recommendation from your doctor, the charges you face depend on the amount of marijuana in your possession and how you intended to use it. Marijuana penalties can include incarceration, fines, and marijuana addiction treatment. Those who have small amounts for personal use face much lesser penalties than those who are growing it, who have large amounts, or who intend to sell marijuana. Likewise, while adults can face jail or prison sentences, minors will typically face spending time in a juvenile facility. Also of note is that those who possess synthetic forms of marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinols) typically face stiffer penalties than those who possess actual marijuana.

In order to be charged with attempted distribution of marijuana you do not have to be caught in the act of selling it. A large amount of marijuana, measuring equipment, baggies, and other paraphernalia can be used as evidence of your intent to sell. Below is a table that indicates the penalties for acts related to the illegal possession, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana under California law. Keep in mind that there are separate penalties under federal law. Due to the sometimes complicated nature of California’s marijuana laws, specific penalties could vary depending on your particular circumstances so you should consult an attorney. (California Health and Safety Code Section 11357-11362.9)

Marijuana Penalties Table

Activity

Offense

Incarceration

Fine (max)

Charge

Possession

28.5 g or less

1st, 2nd, 3rd

 

$100

M
I
S
D
E
M
E
A
N
O
R

4th or more2

Drug Treatment

At a school

By an Adult

10 days (max)

$500

By a Minor

1st

 

$250

2nd or more

10 days at a juvenile facility

$500

Over 28.5 g

Any

6 months (max)

$500

Giving Away

28.5 g or less

Any

 

$100

Over 28.5 g

Any except third strike3

2, 3, or 4 years

 

F
E
L
O
N
Y

To a minor

14 or older

Any except third strike3

3, 4, or 5 years

 

under 14

Any except third strike3

3, 5, or 7 years

 

Cultivation

Any except third strike3

2, 3, or 4 years

 

Sale

To an Adult

Any except third strike3

2, 3, or 4 years

 

To a Minor

Any except third strike3

3, 5, or 7 years

 

  1. In cases of possession or cultivation for personal use, drug court may be available in lieu of the penalties ascribed in the above table.
  2. Offense must be within two years of a previous marijuana offense. Any above marijuana offense is considered a previous marijuana offense.
  3. California has a three strikes law. You should consult an attorney to see if this is applicable in your case.

Follow this link for more information about California Marijuana Laws and California Medical Marijuana Laws