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Marijuana Laws in California

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Is Marijuana Possession Legal in California?

As of January 1, 2018 it is legal for adults 21 years or older to possess, process, transport, purchase, obtain, or give away up to 1 ounce or 8 grams of cannabis. An adult (+21 years-old) can also cultivate, possess, plant, harvest, dry, or process up to 6 live plants.

Plants must be grow in a secure, private space and any marijuana that exceeds 1 ounce/8 grams must be stored in a locked space in a private residential property.

What is Legal and Not Legal for Recreational Marijuana Use?

While using recreational marijuana is legal for those +21 years-old, it is illegal for individuals to smoke, vape, or ingest cannabis/cannabis products in a public place. If caught and found guilty, individuals can face a fine of up to $100.

Users are also not allowed to smoke or vape cannabis in a non-smoking area. This includes within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare, or any facility where children are known to be present and are currently present. The only exception is if the user is in a private residence that happens to be within 1,000 feet of those establishments. They are also not allowed to possess or use cannabis at a daycare, youth center, or school grounds when children are present.

Passengers in vehicles (including cars, boats, and airplanes) are not allowed to use/consume/possess an “open container” of cannabis.

Employers are allowed to still forbid cannabis use by employees, including employees using cannabis during non-working hours. Landlords and property owners can still prohibit or restrict the use of cannabis on their privately owned property. This includes any government owned/run buildings.

It is also illegal to possess more than 1 ounce/8 grams of marijuana without further license/permission 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.

Most importantly, it is illegal to purchase marijuana within California and transport it out-of-state. California is allowed to permit use and transport of marijuana within state lines, but once it moves out of state then it becomes an issue that falls under the federal law. As of January 2018, marijuana is still illegal under federal law and any transportation of it outside of California will be considered trafficking.

What is the “Open Container” Law for Marijuana?

Much like alcohol regulation, an “open container” is any container that holds cannabis/cannabis products that has been opened or the seal has broken. This includes any loose buds/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.

This means that drivers and passengers in a vehicle (including boats and planes) are not allowed to use cannabis and cannabis products while the vehicle is in operation.

What Happens if I Use Marijuana and Drive?

Much like alcohol, there is a penalty for driving under the influence of marijuana. As of January 2018, the California Penal Code has yet to specify the penalties/fines for a cannabis DUI. However, the penalties will most likely be similar to alcohol, which means first-time offenders can face :

Under California law, the use of marijuana products and driving is the same as drinking and driving.

Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

While California has legalized possession and use of recreational marijuana, there are still limits. It is still possible to possess/use cannabis illegally, which means that individuals can still face severe penalties and fines for violating the law. If you have violated California’s Cannabis Laws and will face penalties, then it’s important to contact a criminal lawyer right away. As the law is still new, the way forward for cannabis users is unclear. But a legal professional can help you understand what is the next best step.

Photo of page author Janice Lim

, LegalMatch Content Manager

Last Modified: 01-10-2018 02:07 PM PST

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