Saturday, July 21, 2018
Home Marijuana Laws by State California Marijuana Laws

California Marijuana Laws

California marijuana laws allow adult use of the drug for any purpose. The state has the oldest medical marijuana system in the country, and residents can now legally possess, use and cultivate cannabis for recreational purposes.

California Marijuana Attorneys

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


California marijuana laws allow adults to possess, use and cultivate cannabis for personal consumption. The state has the oldest medical marijuana system in the country, and residents can now also legally enjoy the drug for recreational purposes.

Medical Marijuana

California medical marijuana laws were first established in 1996, making the Golden State the first to implement any such law. Patients with a wide array of health problems are allowed to buy cannabis after obtaining a doctor’s recommendation. There are few other rules under state law, and local ordinances vary widely.


Possession and use of cannabis became legal for adults in California when residents approved Proposition 64 (the Adult Use of Marijuana Act). Residents can now legally possess 1 ounce of flower or 8 grams of marijuana concentrates without penalty. Possession of quanities exceeding these limits is a misdemeanor, subject to up to 6 months in jail and $500 in fines.

It is likewise a misdemeanor to possess the above quanities of cannabis while on school grounds, punishable by up to 10 days in jail and $500 in fines. Possession by someone under age 18 is also a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 10 days at a youth detention center and a $250 fine.

It is a misdemeanor when it is deemed that marijuana is possessed with the intent to supply it. The maximum penalty is 6 months imprisonment and a $500 fine.

Sale and Delivery

Unlicensed sale of any amount of cannabis is a misdemeanor in California, subject to up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine. Gifts – when nothing else of value changes hands – of no more than 28.5 grams, however, come with nothing more than a $100 fine.

California cannabis laws impose much harsher penalties in cases when a minor is involved. 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 3 and 5 years in prison. If the child is younger than 14, the penalty is 3 to 7 years in prison.


Marijuana laws in California allow cultivation of up to six plants at home for recreational use. Any more than that is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $500 in fines. This limit does not apply to medical marijuana patients.

Hash and Concentrates

It is legal to possess up to eight grams of hashish, hash oil, or other cannabis concentrates. Possession of more than eight grams is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

The penalty for unauthorized manufacture of concentrates depends on the method used. If the process used involves extraction chemicals, such as butane, it is classed as chemical synthesis. Manufacture by means of chemical synthesis comes with a maximum fine of $50,000 and a prison term of between 3 and 7 years, as decided by the court.

If the method of manufacture involves screens, presses, and any other methods not involving the use of chemical synthesis, the potential prison sentence ranges from 16 months to three years, as determined by a court.


Marijuana paraphernalia includes any items used in the cultivation, harvesting, processing, testing, analysis, storage or use of marijuana.  Possession of marijuana paraphernalia is legal in California, but unless authorized by law, it is a crime to sell it, deliver it, possess it with intent to sell it, or manufacture it with intent. Any such offense is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in a county jail or state prison.

Any paraphernalia offense involving a minor at least three year younger than the offender is also a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail, as well as a potential fine of $1,000.


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.

See the table below for a full breakdown of California cannabis laws.


California became the first state in the US to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana when a law was approved by ballot initiative on Nov. 6, 1996 by 56% of voters. The new California medical marijuana law removed the criminal penalties for the use, possession and cultivation of cannabis for patients who possess a “written or oral recommendation” from a physician.

Qualifying conditions– Anorexia, Arthritis, Cachexia, Cancer, Chronic Pain, HIV/AIDS, Glaucoma, Migraine, Persistent Muscle Spasms, Severe Nausea, Seizures, and any other debilitating illness where the medicinal use of marijuana was been “deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician”

Patient possession limits –No possession limits specified

Home cultivation – Yes, but no cultivation limits are specified

State-licensed dispensaries – No, but some cities locally regulate dispensaries

Caregivers – Yes – a primary caregiver is an individual who has consistently assumed responsibility for the health, housing or safety of a qualified patient. Unless the caregiver is the parent of a qualified patient, caregivers must be 18 years of age or older.

Reciprocity – No

Contact information – For more information on California medical marijuana laws, contact:

California NORML
2261 Market Street #278A
San Francisco, CA 94144
(415) 563-5858

For detailed information on county or municipal medical marijuana guidelines, please visit:

For a list of California doctors who recommend medical cannabis, please visit:

For a list of California medical cannabis providers, please visit:


Offense Penalty Incarceration   Max. Fine


Personal Use

Up to 1 oz No penalty None $ 0
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 Misdemeanor 6 months $ 500
*Detention center

Sale or Delivery

Any amount Misdemeanor 6 months $ 500
Gift of 28.5 grams or less No penalty N/A $ 100
Over 18 years to an individual 14-17 years Felony 3 – 5 years N/A
Over 18 years to an individual under 14 years Felony 3 – 7 years N/A


Up to 6 plants No penalty None $ 0
6 plants or more Misdemeanor 6 months $ 500

Hash & Concentrates

Up to 8 g No penalty None $ 0
8 g or more Misdemeanor 6 months $ 500
Unauthorized manufacture N/A 16 months – 3 years $ 0
Chemical manufacture N/A 3 – 7 years $ 50,000


Sale, delivery, possession with intent, and manufacture with intent Misdemeanor 1 year $ 0
Involving a minor at least 3 years junior Misdemeanor 1 year $ 1,000


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


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.