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California

  • California Summary
  • Law Breakdown
  • Penalties

California has some of the nation’s most contradictory marijuana laws, and easily the most chaotic. The drug is decriminalized for personal use and legal for medical use, while non-medical sale, delivery, and cultivation are all crimes. Hash and concentrates are also banned, as is paraphernalia.

California Marijuana Attorneys

The following California lawyers are actively involved in the practice of cannabis law:

Name: Your Firm Here
Website: www.YourSite.com
Phone: 555.555.5555

 

Name: Your Firm Here
Website: www.YourSite.com
Phone: 555.555.5555

 

Name: Your Firm Here
Website: www.YourSite.com
Phone: 555.555.5555

 

*Disclaimer these are paid advertisements, however we have vetted the attorneys.

California has some of the nation’s most contradictory marijuana laws, and easily the most chaotic. The drug is decriminalized for personal use and legal for medical use, while non-medical sale, delivery, and cultivation are all crimes. Hash and concentrates are also banned, as is paraphernalia.

Yet the state’s medical cannabis laws are so vague the drug is easy to get and practically legal. California is a strong bet for legalization in coming years.

Medical Marijuana

California was the first state to enact medical cannabis, in 1996, but the law’s limits remain unclear. Patients with a wide array of health problems are allowed to buy marijuana after obtaining a doctor’s recommendation. There are few other rules under state law, and local ordinances vary widely, so the drug is easier to get in some areas than in others.

Possession

Possession of cannabis for personal, recreational use is an infraction if the amount is less than 28.5 grams (roughly 1 ounce). The top penalty is a civil fine of $100.

An adult over the age of 18 who possesses 28.5 grams or less on school grounds commits a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of 10 days in jail and $500 in fines. Possession of 28.5 grams or less by a minor under age 18 is also a misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of 10 days in a juvenile detention facility and $250.

Possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana is likewise a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and $500 in fines. Possession of any amount with intent to distribute it is a felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of 16 months in prison and a maximum of three years.

Sale and Delivery

It is technically a misdemeanor to give up to 28.5 grams to another person without payment, but the only penalty is a $100 fine. Any other sale or delivery of marijuana is a felony and carries a penalty of two to four years in prison.

Giving any amount of cannabis to a minor between the ages of 14 and 17 is a felony when the giver is 18 or older and is punishable by between three and five years in prison. If the child is younger than 14, the penalty is three to seven years in prison. The same punishment applies when an adult 18 or older sells or tries to sell marijuana to any minor under 18.

Cultivation

Medical marijuana patients are allowed to grow the drug, but non-medical cultivation of any amount is a felony. The mandatory minimum penalty is 16 months in prison while the maximum is three years.

Hash and Concentrates

Non-medical possession of hashish, hash oil, or other cannabis concentrates is an unclassified offense punishable by up to one year in jail and $500 in fines. Unauthorized manufacture carries a penalty of between 16 months and three years in prison, plus a $500 fine. Use of chemicals to manufacture concentrates can be punished by between three and seven years in prison and $50,000 in fines.

Paraphernalia

Marijuana paraphernalia possession is legal in California, but it is a crime to sell paraphernalia, deliver it, possess it with intent to sell it, or manufacture it with intent. Any such offense is a misdemeanor and is punishable by at least 15 days in jail and as many as six months, plus a $500 fine.

Any paraphernalia offense involving a minor at least three year younger than the offender is also a misdemeanor, but the maximum penalty increases to one year in jail and $1,000.

Miscellaneous

It is a felony, punishable by between three and seven years in prison, to use a minor in the illegal sale or transport of marijuana. Inducing a minor to use the drug is also a felony punishable by three to seven years in prison.

An additional fine of up to $150 is levied against offenders who violate the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act. This is the law that classifies and bans certain categories of legally controlled drugs.

Just as it is illegal to smoke cannabis in public, it is a misdemeanor to loiter in a public place with intent to commit certain violations of the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act. Violations of that law can be punished by suspension of driving privileges, among other penalties.

As a resident of the Golden State, it is important to know local paraphernalia laws. Here you can find a full description of California’s Health and Safety Code 11364-5.

 

California Marijuana 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 mos $500
With Intent to Distribute
Any amount felony 16 mos - 3 years $0
*Detention center
Sale or Delivery
Any amount felony 2 - 4 years $0
Gift of 28.5 grams or less misdemeanor N/A $100
Over 18 years to an individual 14-17 years felony 3 - 7 years $0
Cultivation
Any amount felony 16 mos - 3 years $0
Hash & Concentrates
Possession N/A 1 year $500
Unauthorized manufacture N/A 16 mos - 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 mos $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.

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Police in California’s famed Emerald Triangle executed a series of raids in June that uprooted more than 15,000 marijuana plants. Sheriff’s deputies from three counties conducted the raids in late June, saying they found roughly 15,300 cannabis plants in varying stages of maturity, according to a local newspaper. Though not one of California’s largest marijuana …

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500 Medical Marijuana Shops Closed in Los Angeles

Officials in Los Angeles say they’ve shut down more than 500 illicit medical marijuana dispensaries over the last two years. Voters approved an MMJ law in 2013 that limits the number of legitimate dispensaries to roughly 120. Only shops that were already in business as of 2007 are allowed to operate. At the time the …

Posted in California, Medical Marijuana | Leave a comment

California School District Sues City Over MMJ Shops

A California school district has sued the local city government, saying city officials failed to stop illegal medical marijuana dispensaries from opening near schools. The Compton Unified School District filed the lawsuit against the City of Compton in state court April 1. The suit followed a letter by the school board threatening legal action unless …

Posted in California, Medical Marijuana | Leave a comment

San Diego’s First Legal MMJ Shop Opens

Things are starting to look up for medical marijuana patients in Southern California. The first legal dispensary in San Diego opened its doors March 18 and celebrated its grand opening a few days later. A Green Alternative went into business roughly a year ago in the wake of a vote by the San Diego City …

Posted in California, Legalization, Medical Marijuana | Leave a comment

California Dispensary Sues Police Over Raid

santa-anana

A California medical marijuana dispensary has sued local police following a raid during which officers allegedly harassed employees and ate cannabis candy. The officers’ antics were caught on a secret video camera, even after they dismantled the store’s official surveillance system. One officer joked about a worker’s disability, threatening to kick her in the stump of her amputated leg. The ...

Read More »

App Makes Medical Marijuana Easy

Medical-marijuana-

Marijuana is just a few inches from legal in California, where the drug is cheap and widely available on medical grounds, even to adults without serious health conditions. But bureaucracy still stands in the way. Even in the Golden State, where the rules on medical cannabis are so loose tourists can get it, patients must have a doctor’s recommendation. If ...

Read More »

California Raid Nets Thousands of MJ Plants

raid

Police in California’s famed Emerald Triangle executed a series of raids in June that uprooted more than 15,000 marijuana plants. Sheriff’s deputies from three counties conducted the raids in late June, saying they found roughly 15,300 cannabis plants in varying stages of maturity, according to a local newspaper. Though not one of California’s largest marijuana busts, the operation destroyed a ...

Read More »

Loss in Court Could Lead to Win for MJ Activists

judge-marijuana-and-the-law

Marijuana advocates lost a major battle over federal anti-drug law in April, but the circumstances of the defeat suggest they’re getting closer to winning the war. A judge in California rejected a lawsuit that sought to reclassify cannabis under federal law. Currently the drug is listed along with heroin, ecstasy, and LSD in the most restrictive category of the Controlled ...

Read More »

500 Medical Marijuana Shops Closed in Los Angeles

marijuana dispensary

Officials in Los Angeles say they’ve shut down more than 500 illicit medical marijuana dispensaries over the last two years. Voters approved an MMJ law in 2013 that limits the number of legitimate dispensaries to roughly 120. Only shops that were already in business as of 2007 are allowed to operate. At the time the ordinance passed, there were anywhere ...

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California School District Sues City Over MMJ Shops

medical marijuana

A California school district has sued the local city government, saying city officials failed to stop illegal medical marijuana dispensaries from opening near schools. The Compton Unified School District filed the lawsuit against the City of Compton in state court April 1. The suit followed a letter by the school board threatening legal action unless the city drove away the ...

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San Diego’s First Legal MMJ Shop Opens

san diego green alternative

Things are starting to look up for medical marijuana patients in Southern California. The first legal dispensary in San Diego opened its doors March 18 and celebrated its grand opening a few days later. A Green Alternative went into business roughly a year ago in the wake of a vote by the San Diego City Council to allow a limited ...

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