Laws in California Regarding Marijuana: California Cannabis Law

Where You Need a Lawyer:

(This may not be the same place you live)

At No Cost! 

 Is Marijuana Possession Legal in California?

Marijuana is a greenish mixture of dried flowers. People consume marijuana in many different forms. The mind altering chemical in marijuana is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or (THC). Every state has different laws regarding the legality of marijuana. This can also depend on what purpose the marijuana is being used for. 

Under the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, California marijuana laws allow for legal and recreational and medicinal use. Adult use (recreational use) was approved in the state of California on November 8, 2016. 

In general, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act allows adults 21 and over to possess, and give away up to one ounce of cannabis, and to cultivate no more than six plants for personal use at their residence. On January 1, 2018 it also became legal for the sale, distribution and production of cannabis for adult use at state-licensed facilities. Although marijuana is legal in the state of California, local municipalities can restrict or ban cannabis businesses in their jurisdiction.

What is Legal and Not Legal for Recreational Marijuana Use?

What is legal and not legal for recreational cannabis laws in California depends on how the marijuana is used; below is a further explanation. It is legal to use recreational marijuana in California as long as you are 21 years or older. However, it is illegal for individuals to smoke, vape, or ingest cannabis products in a public place. If caught doing so, the individuals can be fined or severe jail time depending on the facts.

Furthermore, users are also not allowed to smoke or vape cannabis in an area labeled non-smoking. This includes 1,000 feet of a school, daycare center, or any facility where children are known to be located or any other establishment that is labeled non-smoking. The only exception is if the user is in a private residence that happens to be within 1,000 feet of those establishments. Finally, they are not allowed to use cannabis when anyone under the age of 18 is around. 

Anyone in a motor vehicle is not allowed to have an open container of marijuana while driving that vehicle, this includes cars or any other operational vehicle. This law is similar to the open intox rule relating to alcohol. 

Private employers are allowed to still forbid cannabis use by employees, including employees using cannabis during non-working hours. These employers can test for cannabis as they choose. Private landlords and property owners can still prohibit or restrict the use of cannabis on their privately owned property. This includes any government owned buildings.

The amount of marijuana is also restricted in the state of California. For example, It is illegal to possess more than 1 ounce or (8 grams of marijuana) without an additional license from the State. It is also illegal to sell marijuana without a proper license from the State of California. So while individuals can give up to 1 ounce of marijuana, they are not able to sell it or give more than 1 ounce.

If you are charged with a violation of California’s marijuana laws but believe that you are innocent, there are several legal defenses that may protect you from a guilty charge. Some of the most common legal defenses are listed below:

  • You did not have full possession of the marijuana 
  • You were not aware where the marijuana was located
  • The marijuana was discovered during a search that was unconstitutional 
  • You were riding in someone else’s vehicle and the pot did not belong to you
  • Someone purposely put the marijuana into your pocket, without your permission or knowledge

Finally, it is illegal to purchase marijuana within California and transport it out-of-state. This is  because while marijunia is legal in California it may not be legal in other surrounding states like Utah. California is allowed to permit use and transport of marijuana within the state, but once it moves out of state then it becomes an issue that falls under federal law. 

As stated above, as of 2020 marijuana is still illegal under federal law and therefore, these laws only apply to the state of California and no other jurisdictions. 

What is the “Open Container” Law for Marijuana?

Similar to alcohol regulation, an “open container” is any container that holds cannabis products that have been opened. This includes any loose buds or flowers of marijuana. If individuals need to transport their legally possessed marijuana products that have been opened, then they must put them in the trunk. 

Furthermore, drivers and passengers in a vehicle, like a car, boat or plane, are not allowed to use cannabis and cannabis products while the vehicle is in operation. Some of the most common examples of the open container law include:

  • Having a certain amount of marijuana in a pocket of clothing while driving a motor vehicle
  • After going to a legal marijuana dispensary, breaking the seal of the container of the purchased product before returning home
  • Smoking or vaping marijunia while driving on the expressway 

What Happens if I Use Marijuana and Drive?

As stated above, similar to driving a car under the influence of alcohol driving under the influence of marijuana is also against the law. As of January 2020, the California Penal Code has yet to specify the penalties for a cannabis DUI. 

However, the penalties will most likely be similar to alcohol, which means first time offenders can face probation, fines, suspension or depending on the severity of other facts, jail time. Under California law, the use of marijuana products and driving  is parallel to drinking and driving.

What Happens If a Minor Gets Caught with Weed in California?

In the state of California, you must be 21 years of age to legally possess marijuana. Anyone under age 21 who possesses marijuana can be charged with an infraction and sentenced to a fine, drug counseling or community service. 

What are Some Punishments Associated with Marijuana in California?

Although, marijuana is legal to use for recreational use in California there are still punishments if not if the rules and regulations of this use are not followed. Some punishments for improper use in California include: 

  • Drug counseling and community service
  • Up to $250 fine for first offense
  • Up to 6 months in county jail; up to $500 fine
  • Probation for 3 to 5 years;
  • 96 hours to 6 months in county jail;
  • Fine of $390 to $1,000; and
  • Suspension of driver’s license for up to 6 months

Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help with Marijuana Laws?

Even though possession of marijuana in California is legal, it is still possible to use cannabis illegally, which means that you can face severe penalties and fines for violating the law. California marijuana laws are brand new and can be complex. If you are in violation of California’s marijuana laws, or have questions about these laws you should contact a California criminal lawyer. 

A California drug lawyer will advise you and represent you in a court of law. Contacting a California criminal lawyer will help assure that you have your legal questions satisfied and can advise you on your options. They can also keep you updated if you have any questions about any changes to or developments to California cannabis laws.

Save Time and Money - Speak With a Lawyer Right Away

  • Buy one 30-minute consultation call or subscribe for unlimited calls
  • Subscription includes access to unlimited consultation calls at a reduced price
  • Receive quick expert feedback or review your DIY legal documents
  • Have peace of mind without a long wait or industry standard retainer
  • Get the right guidance - Schedule a call with a lawyer today!

16 people have successfully posted their cases

Find a Lawyer