California's Marijuana Laws & Penalties

California's Marijuana Laws & Penalties

While the State of California has virtually decriminalized marijuana possession for personal use, that is not true all the time. Even though marijuana is practically legal in the state, there are still exceptions to the rule. In other words, the state still has laws on the books that criminalize marijuana, so if you’re not knowledgeable on the state’s laws, you can find yourself unexpectedly facing drug charges.

“Isn’t marijuana legal if it’s for personal use?” Yes, but only up to one ounce if you’re 18 or older. If you possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use, there is no penalty, no jail time, and no fine. On the other hand, you can find yourself in violation of the law under these circumstances:

  • If you are under the age of 18and you possess 28.5 grams of marijuana or less, you commit a misdemeanor, and you face up to 10 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $250.
  • If you are 18 or older and you possess more than 28.5 grams of pot, you commit a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, and by a fine not to exceed $500.
  • If you are any age and you possess any amount of marijuana with the “intent to distribute” the drug, you are guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail, and by a fine not to exceed $500.
  • If you sell any amount of marijuana, you are guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail, and by a fine not to exceed $500.

To recap: While it’s legal to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, you have to be 18 or older, otherwise you can face drug charges. You break the state’s marijuana law if you possess any marijuana and you are under 18, if you possess more than 28.5 grams at any age, and if you possess pot with the intent to distribute it. Selling any amount of pot is also a crime under California law.

As you can see, it’s still very easy to break one of California’s marijuana laws, because contrary to popular belief, the state still has several anti-marijuana laws on the books.

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