Drug laws are broad and some of the most complex laws in the state. California has separate criminal laws for marijuana from cocaine, heroin, and other controlled substances. The complexity of these rules can land you in trouble unknowingly. So, we at the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm are here to help defend you if you are facing any marijuana-related charges. We are well-versed with California marijuana laws and can defend you if you are facing these criminal charges in the Pasadena area.
A Background of California Marijuana Laws
Previously, marijuana usage was exclusively allowed for medical reasons after voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996, also known as Prop 215, or the Compassionate Use Act/CUA. The Health and Safety Code 11362.5 helps to explain the Compassionate Use Act, which states that patients with specific health issues can lawfully use medical pot provided their physician recommends using it to treat their conditions.
These can include health issues such as AIDS, cancer, arthritis, migraines, and seizures. This list is not exhaustive. Voters adopted Proposition 64, commonly referred to as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act/AUMA), which legalized marijuana for leisure or recreational consumption provided you're over the age of 21, twenty years following the passage of the CUA.
This law states that anybody who is of twenty-one years of age or older can buy, consume, and carry up to 28.5 grams (an ounce) of cannabis or weed within their residence or in any location that has been granted authorization to allow the consumption or utilization of marijuana.
This legislation also permits you to grow up to six marijuana plants for recreational use lawfully in your home. Even though marijuana is permitted in these circumstances, it is nonetheless illegal at the federal level and is punishable if convicted.
After being detained for a marijuana-related offense or another related crime, it is advisable to see a defense lawyer for essential legal guidance regarding your situation. A skilled lawyer will address your concerns and defend your rights.
Even though AUMA legalized the sale, possession, and use of marijuana for recreational purposes, it left in place other marijuana-related laws. The execution of this law has only authorized a few modifications to how certain marijuana charges and related charges should be handled by law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts.
A few of the marijuana laws you should be aware of are covered here, along with the consequences you might face if you are found guilty during trial for infringing the laws:
Possession of Marijuana/Cannabis for Personal Use Under the Health and Safety Code 11357
In general, it is illegal to possess certain amounts of cannabis in California except if a doctor or physician legally allows you to have it in your possession for medicinal purposes. Possession of marijuana, as per the Health and Safety Code 11357, may result in misdemeanor or infraction charges and fines, based on the following variables:
- How old you are
- The amount of cannabis you have in your possession at the time of your arrest
- Further proof or evidence supporting your particular case
The following are some examples of charges and penalties you may face for possessing cannabis illegally:
Possession of Concentrated Hashish/Cannabis Under the Health and Safety Code 11357(a)
Possessing over eight grams of concentrated cannabis is prohibited unless you have a valid justification for using it medically. Due to the high concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol/THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana that causes you to feel "high," possessing concentrated cannabis is usually regarded by the authorities as a serious crime.
If you are older than 18, it is pursued as a wobbler crime to possess concentrated marijuana products like hashish, wax, extracts, cannabis oils, dabs, rosin, or honey oil, as per Health and Safety Code 11357(a). Generally, a wobbler is a violation that, based on your circumstances, could be prosecuted as a felony offense or misdemeanor.
When prosecuted as a felony offense, a violation of Health and Safety 11357(a) will result in up to 3 years in California state prison as well as a fine of up to ten thousand dollars. A conviction for violating California Health and Safety Code 11357(a) will, nevertheless, result in the following penalties when prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense:
- Jail sentence of up to six months
- Maximum fines of up to five hundred dollars
It's also important to remember that, irrespective of the quantity, anybody below the age of 21 who possesses concentrated cannabis is charged with an infraction. In this situation, if you're under the age of 18, a sentence will result in you doing community service as well as taking part in drug treatment programs. However, if you're older than 18, you run the risk of receiving a punishment of up to a hundred dollars.
Possession of Less than an Ounce of Marijuana Under Health and Safety Code 11357(b)
As long as you're a grownup who is 21 years of age or older, you will not violate the law if you possess, buy, or consume cannabis that does not surpass an ounce/28.5 grams. However, possessing marijuana that weighs less than one ounce will result in criminal penalties for anyone under the age of 21.
Having less than 28.5 grams of marijuana on your person while below the age of 21 is considered an infraction, as per the Health and Safety Code 11357(b). For the prosecution in charge of your matter to successfully convict you of a breach of California Health and Safety Code 11357(b), just as in every other criminal proceeding, they must establish certain elements. These elements are as follows:
- You were found to have non-medical marijuana on your person, in your car, or inside your residence.
- You had cannabis
- You were aware of its existence or accessibility
- You were aware that the substance was illegal or a controlled substance
- The amount of the drug you had was less than one ounce
As a minor, you may face the following punishments if found guilty of violating California Health and Safety Code 11357(b):
- If you are between the ages of 18 and 20, you might face a fine of up to $100
- Civil penalties of up to $100, participating in community service, and counseling for offenders under the age of 18
Even though the goal of the juvenile court is to remediate a minor who has committed a crime, it is advisable to speak with a defense lawyer if your child is being detained for a breach of California Health and Safety Code 11357(b) to contest the ruling.
Possession of More than an ounce of Cannabis Under the Health and Safety Code 11357(c)
Regardless of your age, it is illegal to possess marijuana or cannabis in quantities that exceed the amount stipulated in the law. Possession of more than an ounce of cannabis is considered a misdemeanor under California Health and Safety Code 11357(c). It is important to remember that holding a drug in your "possession" implies you have access to it or control over it.
For example, the drug in question might be on your person, in your home, or in your car. To win the case against you for California Health and Safety Code 11357(c) infringement during the trial, the prosecution in charge of your case should prove all of the criteria indicated previously for the California Health and Safety Code 11357(b) infringement conclusively.
However, he or she must also offer proof that the quantity you possessed at the moment of your arrest was greater than the 25.8-gram threshold. If you're an adult aged 18 or older and are found guilty of this violation in court, you should expect the misdemeanor penalties mentioned below.
- A fine of no more than $500
- Prison sentence of up to 6 months
However, the juvenile court system will regard anyone under the age of 18 as having committed an infraction and may subject them to the following punishments if found guilty:
- Taking part in community service
- Mandatory drug counseling
It's important to note that, irrespective of your age, the aforementioned penalties can be increased if specific aggravating circumstances apply to your situation. Among these aggravating concerns or elements are, but have not been limited to:
- Possessing hashish or another concentrated cannabis product
- Possessing marijuana on school grounds
Possession of Cannabis for Sale Under the California Health and Safety Code 11359
If the authorities find you in possession of over 28.5 grams of marijuana, they may charge you with possessing marijuana with intent to sell, which is against the law according to section 11359. Possessing more than 25.8 grams/one ounce of cannabis could indicate that you intended to sell or distribute it for money, services, goods, or any other incentives.
Sadly, the amount of cannabis and the statement of the law enforcement who arrested you are sufficient to establish that you intended to distribute it in contravention of Code 11359. Additional proof the prosecution will have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to the court that you violated Code 11359 includes:
- The drug was packaged in tiny packages or sachets
- You had several cell phones, weights, and a lot of readily available money in your car, house, or on your person
- You've previously been convicted of selling illegal or outlawed drugs
Although having marijuana with intent to sell is usually a misdemeanor infraction, the prosecution could choose to charge you with a felony in certain situations. A misdemeanor charge for having marijuana with the intent to sell carries the following possible consequences:
- A prison sentence of up to 6 months
- A fine of no more than $500
The following are some situations that could make your case more serious and result in a felony charge:
- You've previously been convicted of serious or violent offenses like murder, rape, or robbery
- You hold two or even more prior convictions or charges for violating Code 11359 of the Health and Safety Code
- The usable amount of cannabis you possessed on your person was related or connected with the intentional sale or intended sale of the drug to a child.
The following are more harsh penalties that can apply when your violation of Code 11359 is found to be a felony:
- Imprisonment for a maximum of 3 years in jail
- Fines of up to ten thousand dollars
- Cultivating marijuana Under the Health and Safety Code 11358
An adult who is 21 years of age or older may grow up to 6 cannabis or marijuana plants in his or her private dwelling under Proposition 64, also known as Prop 64. These plants must be grown indoors, away from the view of others and out of reach of children.
Additionally, if you and your partner or spouse live together in a home or apartment, growing more cannabis than is permitted will result in criminal penalties. This means that simply since you stay together, you can't grow or cultivate twelve marijuana plants inside your shared home.
It is still illegal to grow any quantity of cannabis plants if you're below the age of 21. The following possible consequences could result from a cannabis cultivation conviction committed by a person under the age of 18:
- Carry out a community service
- Join a drug rehabilitation program
However, if found guilty of the crime of cannabis cultivation, anyone who is 18 years old or older but below the age of 21 could be punishable by a fine of up to $100.
Typically, growing more than 6 cannabis plants is considered a crime, punishable by up to a five hundred dollar fine and a maximum of 6 months in county jail. HS 11358 states that if any one of the elements listed below following is true, cultivating more cannabis plants than is permitted may also result in felony charges:
- You have a history of committing violent or serious offenses
- During the cannabis production operations, you needed to break a law related to the environment
- You were previously convicted of violating Code 11358 in two or more instances
When you are convicted of a marijuana-related crime, you could face the following punishments:
- A fine of up to ten thousand dollars
- A state prison sentence of up to 3 years
For this law, "cultivate" refers to the harvesting, cultivation, processing, or handling of marijuana or any of its components. If you're being investigated or detained for allegedly engaging in marijuana production, you should retain legal counsel to protect your rights and advocate for a less harsh penalty or the complete discharge of the matter.
Sale, Importation, Transportation, or Distribution of Cannabis Under the Health and Safety Code 11360
The cannabis legalization law states that if you do have the necessary authorization to operate this type of business, you are permitted to distribute commercial cannabis. The Bureau of Cannabis Control can help you get this permit if you desire to or plan to establish a commercial marijuana enterprise.
Selling, transporting, importing, or distributing marijuana without a valid license is prohibited under Code 11360. Most often, marijuana sales or transportation that occurs without a license will result in misdemeanor charges, such as:
- A county jail sentence of up to 6 months
- Maximum fines of up to a thousand dollars
If you're under the age of 18, the juvenile justice system will handle your matter as an infraction, with the following possible ramifications:
- Taking part in community service
- Attending compulsory drug rehabilitation program
It's also important to remember that the selling or transportation of marijuana with the intention or purpose of selling or distributing it without a legal permit is a felony offense when the following criteria apply:
- You intentionally sold, tried to sell, gave away, or supplied marijuana to a child
- You're a convicted sex offender
- You have 2 or more prior convictions for violating Code 11360
- You had previously been convicted of a violent crime such as rape, robbery, murder, or another serious crime
If you're found guilty of violating Code 11360 as a felony offense, you may face the following consequences:
- Imprisonment in the California state prison for a maximum of 4 years
- Fines of up to ten thousand dollars
If you have been found guilty of violating HS 11360 during your trial, you might face the following penalties except if the quantity you were carrying was not more than 28.5 grams.
Selling Marijuana to a Child Under the Health and Safety Code 11361
Selling cannabis or marijuana to a child is against the law, according to code 11361 of the Health and Safety Code. A child is somebody who hasn't reached the constitutional age of consent, and that is usually 18 years of age.
This legislation is still in effect despite the passage of Proposition 64, which partly legalized cannabis.
Unlawfully using a child to carry out any one of the below-mentioned acts, irrespective of the quantity of cannabis present, is a serious felony offense under the Health and Safety Code section 11361.
- Get ready to sell
To prevent those with these types of tendencies, substantial penalties can be imposed upon conviction for any crime involving a child. If the minor involved was younger than 14 years old at the moment of the crime, you might face up to seven years in California state prison if you have been found guilty of an HS 11361 infringement during the trial.
On the other hand, if the implicated minor is older than 14 but under 18, you can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in California state prison.
Driving While Under the Influence of Marijuana
Driving a car while in possession of up to an ounce of marijuana or cannabis is prohibited by the California Vehicle Code § 23222(b). Even though Proposition 64 allows adults 21 and older to possess or use up to an ounce of cannabis, this prohibition is still in effect. Driving while high on cannabis or marijuana is illegal and if found guilty in court, the following consequences could be imposed:
- Your driving license could be suspended for up to 3 years
- Maximum penalties of a hundred dollars
Potential Arguments Your Attorney Could Put Forward to Defend Against the Alleged Marijuana Charges
Being accused of a marijuana offense or a related crime does not signify the end for you. The following arguments can be used effectively and persuasively by a reputable defense lawyer to achieve the best results for your case.
- You were the victim of inappropriate police conduct, such as an illegal or unwarranted search
- You were unaware that marijuana was present
- The drug found by the arresting officer was not marijuana
- The purported cannabis wasn't in your possession, particularly if it was out of your reach and out of your control
- You had medical marijuana
- You possessed a useable quantity of marijuana on your person at the moment of the arrest, but you did not have any reason or criminal desire to distribute or sell it
Your defense counsel will assist you in avoiding incarceration if the purported offense is pursued as a misdemeanor by proposing a proper diversion program, such as:
Deferred Entry Judgment)/DEJ
A standard DEJ program allows you to participate in a drug rehabilitation program for 6 months as an alternative to doing your jail time. However, to be eligible for this, you must plead guilty. After an additional year without being arrested, the court will dismiss your case, allowing you to enjoy the freedoms you are due.
Proposition 36/Prop 36
Proposition 36 is a common sentencing law that lets you choose to spend your time in a mandatory drug treatment program for up to a year rather than going to prison. In general, marijuana-related crimes or violations are challenging due to the constantly evolving regulatory restrictions. Fortunately, if you find a skilled defense lawyer to be on your side, the court could rule in your favor.
A knowledgeable and qualified attorney may be able to persuade the court or the judge ruling over your matter to dismiss the alleged allegation or reduce it to a less serious charge with less harsh penalties.
Find a Pasadena Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
At the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm, our lawyers have in-depth knowledge of California marijuana laws and other drug crimes laws. We can use our knowledge to help you if you or a loved one is being investigated or accused of a marijuana-related charge in Pasadena. Don't hesitate to contact us at 626-628-0564 so that our defense lawyers can find the best course of action for your situation.