Recreational use of marijuana was legalized in California on January 1, 2018, as a result of the passage of Proposition 64 in November of 2016. Despite this, it is important to note that marijuana is still considered illegal under United States federal law. This means that federal law enforcement officers and prosecutors in each state may elect to prosecute marijuana offenses at their discretion, even where individuals are acting legally in accordance with state law. Additionally, it is also important to remember that even in California, there are still numerous restrictions on who many possess marijuana, where marijuana may be consumed, where marijuana can be grown, and how marijuana may be legally distributed.
With these disclaimers, the applicable law in California now states that adults twenty-one years of age or older can possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana or eight grams of concentrated cannabis and each person may also grow up to six plants for their personal use, subject to some restrictions. However, if these quantities are exceeded, an adult can be charged with a misdemeanor and is subject to a maximum of six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500, plus court costs.
Individuals between eighteen and twenty years of age who are convicted of possession of marijuana may be charged with an infraction and ordered to pay a fine. Minors under eighteen years of age may be sentenced to some drug counseling and/or community service if convicted of possession of marijuana.
Although these may not seem like extraordinary penalties at first glance, it is important to remember that the laws are constantly changing and evolving in this arena and there are still multiple ways in which criminal charges may be filed against you in marijuana-related cases. For instance, if you are caught growing more than six plants, you could be charged with marijuana cultivation in violation of Health and Safety Code section 11358. Typically, this will be filed as a misdemeanor offense and carries a maximum possible custody sentence of six month in county jail and/or a fine of $500, plus court costs. However, it is possible that felony charges will be filed if the defendant has a criminal history involving serious and violent felonies, if he/she is a sex offender required to register pursuant to Penal Code section 290, if he/she violates certain state environmental laws in the cultivation process, or if he/she has two or more prior marijuana cultivation convictions. In these cases, the maximum exposure is up to three years in county jail, pursuant to Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (h) and/or a fine of up to $10,000, plus court costs.
Similarly, Health and Safety Code section 11359 makes it a crime to possess any usable quantity of marijuana for the purpose of sales without a valid state and local license. In most cases, this will be filed as a misdemeanor offense and carries a maximum possible sentence of six months in the county jail, and/or a fine of up to $500, plus court costs. However, it is possible that felony charged will be filed if the defendant has a criminal history involving certain, enumerated serious and/or violent felonies, if he/she has sustained two or more prior misdemeanor convictions for possession of marijuana sales, or if he/she sold or attempted to sell marijuana to a minor under the age of eighteen. In these cases, the maximum exposure is up to three years in county jail pursuant to Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (h) and/or a hefty fine.
If you have already been charged, or anticipate being charged, with any marijuana offense or other drug related offense in the Murrieta area, contact the Law Office of Julie Ann Baldwin, APC for your free, confidential case consultation now. Your future and your freedom deserve to be taken seriously by an experienced attorney who is committed to quality representation and compassionate advocacy, every step of the way.