California Marijuana Laws
California marijuana laws are extremely complicated. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you could face minor penalties (such as a fine) or years of incarceration. Your reputation, job, and ability to obtain future employment may be at stake as well. There are many types of marijuana charges, including possess, sale, delivery, cultivation, and paraphernalia charges. California law delineates separate charges regarding hash and marijuana concentrates. Generally speaking, these offenses are subject to harsher penalties than related marijuana charges.
What is marijuana?
According to California Health and Safety Code § 11000-11033, the legal definition of marijuana includes all parts of the cannabis plant. Specifically, the law lists cannabis seeds, extracted resin, compounds, and derivatives. Marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug, according to the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act. According to the Controlled Substances Act for the United States, Schedule 1 drugs have a high potential for abuse.
Marijuana Possession Laws in California
Possession is the most common marijuana offense in the United States. Marijuana possession is not listed as one offense, though; there are tiers of possession charges. Possession charges in California can be divided into two categories: personal use and distribution. Personal use charges are significantly less severe than distribution charges. Possessing 28.5 grams or less of marijuana is considered an infraction and is punishable by a $100 fine.
Possessing 28.5 grams or less of marijuana on school grounds is a considered a misdemeanor offense, punishable by ten days in jail and a $500 fine. If the defendant is a minor, he/she will only face a $250 fine. Possessing more than 28.5 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, you could face up to six months of incarceration and a $500 fine. Possession with the intent to distribute is a felony crime can carry a punishment of three years of incarceration.
- Hash & Marijuana Concentrates – Marijuana possession that involves hash or concentrates is subject to severe penalties. If convicted of possessing hash or a marijuana concentrate, you could face up to 1 year in jail and a $500 fine.
Under certain circumstances, a marijuana possession offense is eligible for deferred entry of judgment. In other words, you may be able to eliminate the marijuana possession offense on your criminal record – but only if you meet certain qualifications. For example, the judge may allow deferred entry of judgment if you have to prior criminal record and meet the requirements of probation after a marijuana possession conviction.
Marijuana cultivation refers to the process of planting, growing, harvesting, processing, or drying marijuana. Under California Health & Safety Code § 11358 and California Penal Code § 1170(h), marijuana cultivation is a felony offense. If convicted, you could face between 16 months and three years of incarceration. Unlike possession for personal use, the severity of your cultivation charge is not determined by the amount of marijuana. Marijuana cultivation is not punishable by a fine.
- Cultivating Hash and Marijuana Concentrates – If your arrest involved hash or marijuana concentrates, you may be charged with unauthorized manufacturing or chemical manufacturing. Both of these offenses can result in fines and incarceration, but chemical charges are punishable by more severe consequences. If convicted of unauthorized hash or concentrate manufacturing, you could face up to three years in prison and a $500 fine. Chemical manufacturing is punishable by three to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Drug Crimes and Marijuana Paraphernalia
California law does not define any penalties for simple paraphernalia possession. However, selling, delivering, possessing, and manufacturing marijuana paraphernalia can be a misdemeanor crime, punishable by six months in jail and a $500 fine. In order to be convicted of manufacturing or possessing marijuana paraphernalia, prosecutors must be able to demonstrate that you possessed or manufactured the items "with intention." In other words, you cannot be convicted of a paraphernalia charge unless prosecution decides that you intended to use them with marijuana or sell them to someone else for the same purpose.
Other Marijuana Charges in California
Some marijuana penalties can be enhanced. For example, you could face up to seven years in prison for using a minor to sell or transport marijuana. Other miscellaneous marijuana charges include:
- Violating the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act, punishable by a $150 fine.
- Illegally marketing marijuana. If convicted, you may be liable for civil damages as well.
- Loiter with the intention to sell or purchase marijuana or other controlled substances can be misdemeanor offense.
Modesto Drug Crimes Defense Attorney
Are you facing allegations of a marijuana offense in Modesto, California? Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated can help you avoid a conviction. After an arrest, you may feel overwhelmed; but you don't have to face this challenge alone when you work with our team. When it comes to criminal defense representation, there is no substitute for professional legal experience. That's why Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated always strives to provide the topnotch legal guidance and representation clients need, when they need it the most. Our attorneys offer skilled and aggressive legal representation to clients in Modesto and other nearby areas. With more than 3,000 cases behind us, we have the experience to obtain a favorable case outcome. If you were accused of a marijuana crime, contact us today to for the criminal defense representation that you need. When you have Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated on your side, you can rest assured that a high-quality Modesto criminal defense lawyer will guide you through every step of your case.