There are many ways in which marijuana can be used, including recreation and for medical purposes. The use of marijuana for entertainment has been legal since 2018 in California. Individuals who are above the age of twenty-one years are allowed to grow and possess a certain amount of marijuana for personal use. However, there is a limit for both age and amount that an individual can possess at a time. Adults found possessing more than one ounce of dried weed or exceeding six plants can be arrested and charged with a criminal offense. Also, control of the drug to sell can be you arrested and charged under California marijuana laws. If you or your loved one is facing charges for possession, use, or sale of marijuana, you will require legal guidance from Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm.

Marijuana Cultivation Laws

In California, marijuana laws allow individuals above the age of twenty to cultivate marijuana for recreational purposes. Cultivation of Weed means planting, harvest, drying, or processing the plant. However, it would be best if you did not grow more than six plants. Also, spouses or individuals who share a residential area are not supposed to exceed the six plants. When you are growing marijuana in your residence, you are expected to follow local ordinances. Even though growing Weed is legal, you are expected to cultivate it indoors where the public cannot see it.

You commit a criminal offense when you exceed the limit of plants stipulated by the law. For such a crime, you could face penalties. You are also required to seek treatment. If you are between the age of eighteen and twenty one and you are arrested for cultivating Weed, you will be charged with an infraction that attracts a $100 in court fines.

When a person over the age of twenty is found growing six plants or more, they will face misdemeanor charges. In this case, a conviction will be punishable by: 

  • A six months jail sentence to be served
  • Fines that do not exceed $500

Under the following circumstances, the court may decide to charge you with a felony for weed cultivation:

  • You are a registered sex offender in California
  • Your criminal history indicates a past conviction for a violent felony
  • You have more than two prior convictions Under the Health and Safety law
  • If your weed cultivation process you violated environmental regulations, you can be charged with a felony

When charged as a felony, violation of marijuana cultivation laws attracts the following penalties:

  • A maximum of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in fines
  • Imprisonment for up to three years

If you get arrested for growing weed in excess and you are not a repeat offender, the court may postpone your sentence. You will then be required to seek treatment for drug abuse. A simple conviction for growing marijuana will not affect your ability to own or use a gun. Also, an individual's immigration status is not affected by a conviction under the Health and Safety Law. However, when you get a felony conviction, you may end up being deported or being rendered inadmissible.

With the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, you can beat charges under the Health and Safety Code 11358 using the following defenses:

  1. Claim that you did not Cultivate Weed. When using this defense for your case, you can argue that you were growing something, but it was not weed. In most cases, allegations of weed cultivation may be made out of an assumption without concrete evidence. Therefore, a lack of sufficient evidence to show that you were growing Weed could be a loophole for you to use this defense.
  2. Unlawful search. According to the law, police officers do not have a right to search your property or take anything that belongs to you without a search warrant. If the police found out that you were growing pot through an illegal search, the evidence cannot be used against you.
  3. You can argue that the Weed did not belong to you. You can only be charged for weed cultivation if you did it excessively. Sometimes you can get arrested for Weed that was cultivated by another person in your property, and in this case, you cannot be found guilty.

Possession and use of marijuana

California is one of the states that have legalized possession and use of marijuana for recreational purposes. However, this is not an indication that you cannot get arrested for possession of this drug. Legally, individuals who are above 21 years are allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.

Health and Safety Code 11357 make it an offense for:

  • An individual who has not attained the age of twenty-one years to possess any amount of Weed
  • A person who is above twenty-one years to have more than one ounce of marijuana may get arrested and charged.
  • An individual to possess marijuana on school grounds when it is in session.

If you are arrested in any of the above situations, you can be charged and convicted. If you are an adult and get arrested for simple marijuana possession, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. A conviction for the offense is accompanied by a six-month jail sentence or up to $5,000 in fines. For individuals under the age of eighteen, simple possession of weed is considered an infraction. They will be subjected to community service or a requirement to attend counseling.

Unless the marijuana is for medical purposes, individuals under 21 who are found in possession of concentrated marijuana will be punished by:

  • A fine not exceeding $100
  • Community service
  • Mandatory drug education

Even after possession was legalized, you can be t arrested for possession of marijuana on school grounds. For adults, weed possession is charged as a misdemeanor. The punishment for a conviction is a fine amounting to $250. If you or your relative is facing criminal charges for exceeding the legal limit of marijuana possession, you will require legal guidance.

Your attorney could help you present relevant defenses to fight the charges. Even when you physically possessed the drug, you can argue that you lacked knowledge of what you were carrying. Also, you can present evidence to show that you did not have the alleged amount. If the marijuana found in your possession was discovered in an illegal search, your attorney could petition the county for evidence suppression.

Possession of Marijuana with an Intention to Sell

Even after the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana, you can only cultivate or own it for personal entertainment. Under the California Health and Safety Code 11359, it is a criminal offense to possess marijuana to sell. The prosecutor tries to establish the following elements when proving your glut for possession of marijuana for sale:

  • You had a usable amount of Weed in your possession. Possession of marijuana can be actual or constructive. Actual possession means that you were found holding it or was among your possessions. For constructive possession, you do not need to be having it as long as you control the substance you can get arrested for possession. Before you get punished by the law, the prosecutor must establish this element.
  • You were aware of the presence of the drug. Having control over marijuana is not enough evidence to secure a conviction. It should be clear that you knew of its existence.
  • You knew that the substance is controlled in California. When you are being charged under Health and Safety Code 11359, it must be clear that you knew of the illegal nature of possessing marijuana for sale. The prosecutor could use your immediate reaction during the arrest to establish your knowledge.
  • You had an intent to sell it without a legal license. Since Weed for recreation is permitted, you will only face criminal charges if you had intentions to exchange the drug for money or any other valuable item. The prosecutor will establish your intent to sell by the quant in which you possess and how the substance was packaged. Also, your statements or evidence of physical exchange could be used as evidence againstt you.

Individuals who sell legalized medical marijuana have a license to sell. If you are arrested for intending to sell marijuana illegally, you will face misdemeanor charges. A conviction in this situation results in a six months jail sentence or $500 in fines. As an alternative to a jail sentence, you can be subjected to probation. When serving informal probation, you may need to adhere to the following terms:

  • Mandatory participation in therapy sessions
  • Regular drug testing
  • Regular searches of your property
  • Filing progress reports 

However, under the following circumstances, the court may subject you to felony penalties:

  • You have had a past conviction for crimes such as murder or an offense that mandates sex offender registration.
  • You have more than two previous convictions for possession or sale of marijuana
  • You tried to sell marijuana to a minor

When charged as a felony, HS 11359 attracts a jail sentence not exceeding three years. When you are faced with charges for selling marijuana, you can fight the charges by claiming that you intended to share the Weed with friends and not sell it. Also, by disregarding your knowledge of the pot's presence, you can get a possible penalty reduction. Even with the legalization of Weed, possessing with an intention can have serious consequences. Therefore, seeking legal guidance is one of the wisest decisions you can make for your situation.

California Law on Medical Marijuana

Legalization of medical marijuana was done in 1996 Under California's Compassionate Use. The restrictions put in place for the cultivation and processing of marijuana for recreation do not apply for individuals who use medical marijuana. Unlike recreational marijuana where possession is restricted for individuals below the age of twenty, medical marijuana can be used by younger individuals with a medical recommendation. You may be entitled to grow and possess weed legally if your doctor recommends its use in treating these conditions:

  • Anorexia
  • Seizures
  • Arthritis
  • AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Any other medical complication that brings about chronic pain

If you are the caregiver to a patient who requires medical marijuana, you can legally cultivate and possess it. California law on medical marijuana allows you to produce, transport, or possess the drug for a patient’s use. Also, the amount of medical marijuana should not be more than the patients' medical condition requires. If you sell medical marijuana, you can be arrested and charged for violation of HS 11362.5.

The state of California allows individuals who own nonprofit marijuana dispensaries to distribute the drug. By obtaining a state license, marijuana dispensaries could sell or give medical marijuana to their caregivers. 

Sale, Transport, and Import of Marijuana

Health and Safety Code Section 11360 seeks to punish individuals who give away, transport of import marijuana without a license. You commit an offense when you;

  • Furnish, administer, or transport a usable amount of marijuana. For this offense, marijuana may be in the form of leaves, seeds, powder, or any mixture prepared to sing the drug. You are guilty of selling pot if you exchange or intend to trade it with money or something valuable. The amount of Weed that constitutes for HS 11360 is anything that can be used to get you high. The law is not specific on the distance you need to move the drug to be considered transportation.
  • You sold or transported the drug illegally. Individuals who legally sell medical marijuana have a State license to carry out the business. If you are transporting or importing the sub without a permit, you risk facing criminal charges.
  • You were aware that the substance is controlled. You cannot be found guilty for an offense you do not know about. Therefore, you must be mindful that the law regulates the substance you were transporting.

With the court's discretion, violation of California HS 11360 may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. For most first time offenders transporting Weed without a license is a California Misdemeanor. The offense will attract a six months jail sentence or fines not exceeding $500. You will face felony penalties if this is true:

  • You are a repeat offender for a similar offense
  • You have been convicted for a violent felony in the past
  • You offered to import marijuana from another state to California

Felony convictions for the transport of marijuana are punishable with a four years prison sentence. Also, you may be required to disclose the conviction to potential employers. Import and sale of marijuana take away your right to own or use a firearm in California. With guidance from a criminal defense attorney, you can seek felony probation as an alternative to your sentence.

Driving in Marijuana possession

Possession of up to one ounce has been legalized for individuals over the age of twenty-one. However, it is still a crime to operate a motor vehicle while in possession of pot. California Vehicle Code Section 23222 makes it a crime to drive with marijuana not enclosed or in a container whose seal is broken. Violation of driving in possession of marijuana laws is often an infraction whose penalty is a $100 fine.

If you operate a vehicle while possessing more marijuana than the law requires, you will not be charged with possession but driving in possession. The offense is a misdemeanor. It is crucial to note that driving while in marijuana possession is different from driving under marijuana influence. 

Even for medical marijuana users, the law doesn't allow anyone to use pot and drive a vehicle. This is because of the impairment that could be caused by the drug. Driving under the influence of marijuana is often charged as a misdemeanor unless you caused a severe accident. A conviction for driving under marijuana influence will attract penalties in the form of:

  • A six months jail sentence
  • Mandatory attendance to a drug education program
  • Driver's license suspension
  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • Up to five years of informal probation

Sale of Marijuana to a Minor

Under section 11361 of California Health and Safety Code, you may be arrested and charged with a criminal offense for selling or offering Weed to an underage person. There are three categories of acts prohibited under HS 11361, including:

  1. Offering or selling pot to a minor is a crime. A prosecutor proves your guilt under this section by showing that you knew the controlled substance's presence and tried to offer it to a minor. It is crucial to remember that even when you did not physically deliver the drug, an intention to sell is enough to get you convicted.
  2. Inducing a child to smoke the drug. This could occur when you encourage, persuade, or intimidate the minor into using marijuana. However, if you reasonably believed that the individual was above the legal age, you cannot get convicted.
  3. Using a child in transport or sale of Weed. You commit a criminal offense when you hire a minor to peddle, sell, or carry marijuana. For this offense, the prosecutor must prove that you compensated the child for their services.

Most marijuana based crimes are infractions or misdemeanors. However, violation of HS 11361 is always charged as a felony in California. When you get convicted for this offense, you will be subjected to a prison sentence of up to seven years. If the minor to who you offer, marijuana was above 14 years, your sentence may be reduced to five years. Depending on the circumstances under which the incident occurred, the court could provide you with felony probation instead of serving a prison sentence. During probation, you will be required to take part in community service and seek drug counseling. Should you violate the requirements of felony probation, the initial prison sentence will be reinstated.

Felony convictions in California have serious consequences even after a sentence, therefore, you can seek legal guidance and representation from a criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney can help you defend against the charges by arguing your lack of knowledge on the age of the person to whom you offered Weed. Also, claiming that the minor used the drug without your knowledge could be a valid defense.

Federal Laws on Marijuana 

In the United States, marijuana is a controlled substance. The law believes that many people are likely to abuse the drug even with the restrictions in place. Even when you are adhering to California law on marijuana possession for recreation, you will be violating federal law. As you are using marijuana in California, Ou needs to know that federal law often applies to federal property, including post offices, public airports, or national parks.

When charged under federal law, marijuana possession will be punished by a one-year jail sentence or a fine not exceeding $1000. When you cultivate 50 plants of marijuana with an intent to sell, it will attract a five-year prison sentence and $250,000 in court fines. The severity of your punishment by federal law is increased with an increase in the quantity of marijuana you possess or sell. For immigration purposes, possession of marijuana for sale is treated as a felony. Should you face conviction for the offense, you will face severe immigration consequences, such as deportation.

Find a Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

In the recent past, marijuana has been known to provide numerous health benefits. Some people also use it as a method of recreating. Even though growing and possessing marijuana has been legalized in California, it is still a controlled substance. Marijuana laws govern the growth, possession sale, and use of the drug. If you exceed the legal limit of possession or cultivation, you can be arrested and convicted under marijuana laws. If you want to learn more about marijuana laws or have been arrested and charged with marijuana related activities, you will need guidance from a criminal defense attorney. At Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we will guide you and offer legal representation in your case. Contact us today at 714-740-7848.