While it is legal for adults 21 or older to use, carry, and grow cannabis/marijuana in California, there are limits and parameters to this legality, so it’s important to know the details about when is marijuana possession a crime in California
But first, let’s clear up any confusion about the terms “marijuana” and “cannabis” …
Marijuana or Cannabis?
“Cannabis” and “marijuana” are often used interchangeably, but there is a technical difference, according to the National Institutes of Health definition.
Cannabis refers to all products derived from the plant Cannabis sativa, including marijuana.
Marijuana refers to the parts of the plant — typically the leaves and/or flowers — or products from it that contain substantial amounts of the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is primarily responsible for affecting a person’s mental state.
Some of marijuana’s common street names include:
- Aunt Mary
- BC Bud
- Mary Jane
California Proposition 64: The Adult Use of Marijuana Act
In order to know when is marijuana possession a crime in California, you should know what is legally permissible under the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), or CA Proposition 64.
AUMA allows a person 21 years of age or older to possess, use, and carry up to one ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana and up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. Adults 21 or older also can possess up to 6 living marijuana plants and the marijuana produced by those plants, subject to certain restrictions.
Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana is considered a crime, with penalties that can include up to 6 months in jail and/or fines of up to $500.
Possession with intent to sell also is considered a crime. Legal buying and selling of marijuana and cannabis must be done in an authorized establishment.
It is against the law for you to have an open container of cannabis in a vehicle while driving or riding in the passenger seat. If you have cannabis in a vehicle, it must be in an approved sealed package or container. Otherwise, it must be kept in the trunk of the vehicle.
Situations where Federal Law Applies to Make Marijuana Possession a Crime in California
Even though marijuana use is legal for adults in California, there are some situations where federal law still makes possession of marijuana a crime.
Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recognizes marijuana as a “Schedule I substance … meaning that it has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.”
This is why it’s still illegal to consume or possess marijuana on federal lands — like national parks — even if those lands are in California.
The federal law is also why it’s illegal to transport marijuana across state lines, even if the state you’re crossing into is one where cannabis is legal.
Do You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?
If you have been arrested or charged with criminal possession of marijuana/cannabis, you should seek legal counsel right away in order to protect your rights. Specifically, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you and fight on your behalf.
Mark Broughton is a criminal defense lawyer in Fresno with 40+ years of experience, and he will fight to get you the best possible outcome. He sees every individual’s situation with compassion and empathy. And he believes that every person has the right to a fair trial and is innocent until proven guilty.
If you are facing marijuana possession charges, call 559-691-6222 or click here to request a free consultation. We’ll get back to you right away.
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