Guide to California's Marijuana Laws

Guide to California's Marijuana Laws

By Humboldt Natural Farms on Feb 21, 2017 at 01:29 AM in California Cannabis Regulations
Guide to California's Marijuana Laws

California Marijuana Laws

Pursuant to Prop 64 as of Nov 9th, 2016

On November 8, 2016 California voters approved Prop. 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), by a margin of 57-43%. Prop 64 makes the following changes to California law:

(1) Legalizes possession and use of up to one ounce of marijuana (or 8 grams of concentrates) and personal use cultivation of up to six plants per residence by adults 21 and over.

(2) Reduces penalties for most illegal cultivation, sale, transport, and possession for sale offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, with possible exceptions for repeat or violent offenders or other aggravating circumstances.

(3) Allows prior offenders to file to have their criminal records changed to what they would have been if Prop 64 had been in effect.

(4) Establishes a licensed regulation system for commercial production and sale of adult use cannabis beginning in Jan 1, 2018.

(5) Levies a production tax of $9.25/ ounce of flowers plus an additional 15% excise tax on retail sales of marijuana both adult-use and medical, effective Jan. 1 2018. 

(6) Exempts medical marijuana patients with state-issued ID cards from the existing 7.25%+ sales tax effective immediately.

(7) Legalizes agricultural production of industrial hemp effective Jan 1, 2017.

Prop 64 prohibits (1) smoking or consumption of marijuana in any "public place" or while driving, (2) possession on school grounds, (3) possession of an open container of marijuana while driving or riding in a motor vehicle.

Commercial sale, cultivation, and production of marijuana are allowed only by licensed providers. Illegal sale, transport, manufacture, cultivation, or possession with intent to sell are generally punishable as misdemeanors, with felony enhancement allowed for special circumstances and three-time offenders. Minors under 18 are in no case subject to imprisonment, but may be punished by drug education and community service.

Prop 64 does not apply on federal property. Possession in national parklands is still illegal. Marijuana remains an illegal Schedule One substance under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. Text of the Controlled Substances Act.

Click for more details on Prop 64

Beginning in 2018, Prop 64 will allow the sale of marijuana for adult use in licensed stores under regulations to be established by the state Dept. of Marijuana Control (DMC) in conjunction with local governments. In the meantime, medical marijuana remains available in dispensaries for patients with a California doctor's recommendation in accordance with Prop. 215 and state law SB 420. Prop. 64 in no way affects or limits existing rights or protections of medical marijuana users under Prop 215. However, beginning in 2018, all marijuana, both adult use and medical, will be subject to new state taxes under Prop. 64. In addition, as of 2018, existing commercial medical marijuana providers will have to have state and local licenses pursuant to the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA), passed by the legislature in 2015. Under Prop 64, commercial sales and production of adult use marijuana will be separately licensed by the same agencies under similar, but different regulations. The DMC has overall responsibility for regulation and licensing of sales outlets. The Cal. Dept. of Food and Agriculture is in charge of regulating cultivation, Dept. of Public Health of manufacturing and testing; the Board of Equalization of tax collection, etc.

CA Marijuana Laws Pursuant to Prop 64 (the Adult Use of Marijuana Act) effective Nov 9, 2016 under

Health and Safety Code Division 10, Uniform Controlled Substances Act Chapter 6, Article 2. Marijuana (11357-11362.9)

HSC 11018: Marijuana defined 
HSC 11357: Possession of marijuana
HSC 11358:
Planting, Harvesting or Processing [Cultivation]
HSC 11359:
Possession for Sale
HSC 11360: Unlawful Transportation, Importation, Sale or Gift
HSC 11361: Employing minors or giving to minors 14 or under.
HSC 11361.511361.7 and 11361.8 Destruction of Arrest and Conviction Records
HSC 11362.1 Lawful activities for adult users under Prop. 64
HSC 11362.2 Restrictions on personal use cultivation
HSC 11362.3 and 11362.4 Restrictions on use in public places, at schools & while driving, and manufacture using volatile solvents.
HSC 11362.45 Restrictions regarding minors, employee rights, use on private property

CA Medical Marijuana Laws Pursuant to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Prop215)

HSC 11362.5 Prop 215 - Text of Prop. 215 Initiative (can't be amended by legislature)
HSC 11362.7 - 11362.85 CA Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420)
- implementing legislation re: state ID card program, caregivers and collectives
HSC 11362.9 California Marijuana Research Program

Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (2015)

Business and Professions Code, Division 8, Chapter 3.5 Sec. 19300-19360
Licensing rules for commercial medical cannabis businesses under regulations to take effect Jan 1, 2018.

BPC 2525 - 2525.5 Recommending medical cannabis - Physician conflicts of interest and advertising

Prop 64 Regulations for Adult Use Providers

Business & Professions Code, Diviison 10, Sec. 26000-26211

Licensing rules for adult-use cannabis businesses under regulations to take effect Jan 1, 2018.

Marijuana Taxes

Revenue & Tax Code Division 2, Part 14.5 Sec. 34010-34021.5
Applicable to both adult use and medical cannabis effective Jan 1, 2018. Proceeds allocated to California Marijuana Tax Fund and disbursed to specified programs.

Industrial Hemp

HSC 11018.5 - Industrial hemp defined
Food & Ag Code 81000-81010 - Industrial hemp regulations (effective Jan 1, 2017)

Miscellaneous Laws

HSC 11379.6 and HSC 11362.775 : Manufacture of concentrates with chemicals and volatile solvents.

WC 13276 Water discharge requirements

FGC 12029 Environmental damage - fines and penalties

Labor Code 147.6 - Study on second-hand smoke exposure by employees



(As of January 1, 2011, possession of one ounce (28.5 gms) or less of marijuana was an infraction, punishable by a maximum $100 fine (plus fees) with no criminal record under Ca Health & Safety Code 11357b. With added fees, the cost was be as high as $485.

Prior to 2011, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana was a misdemeanor, but convictions under this section are expunged from the record after two years under Health and Safety Code Sections 11361.5 and 11361.7.)

Possession of larger amounts of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 and six months is jail under Health & Safety Code 11357c. As of November 5, 2014, due to the passage of Prop. 47 in California, possession of hashish or concentrated cannabis is a misdemeanor under Health & Safety Code 11357a.

Under Prop. 36 first- and second- time possession-only offenders may demand a treatment program instead of jail. Upon successful completion of the program, their conviction is erased. Possession (and personal use cultivation) offenders can also avoid conviction by making a preguilty plea under Penal Code 1000, in which case their charges are dismissed upon successful completion of a diversion program.

Possession of one ounce or less in a vehicle while driving may also be charged under Vehicle Code 23222, which is treated identically to HSC 11357 b.

No arrest or imprisonment is allowed for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. However, police often get around this provision by charging minor offenders with felony intent to sell (see below).

Marijuana defined. "Marijuana means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or its resin. It does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the steilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination" (H&SC 11018).

Possession with intent to sell any amount of marijuana is a felony under Health and Safety Code 11359. Police often charge intent to sell if they see such indicia as: scales, cash, multiple packages, "commercial" packaging materials, "excessive" quantity, pay-owe seets, address books, pagers, etc.

Cultivation of any amount of marijuana was formerly a felony under Health and Safety Code 11358. Under Prop. 64, Californians can grow up to 6 plants legally. Local jurisdictions may ban outdoor cultivation, but may not ban cultivation indoors or in a secure, locked location. Locals may enact "reasonable regulations" on cultivation.

People who grow for personal use have been eligible for diversion under Penal Code 1000 so long as there is no evidence of intent to sell. There are no fixed plant number limits to personal use cultivation.

Medical marijuana: Medical patients and their designated primary caregivers may legally possess and cultivate (but not distribute or sell) marijuana under Health and Safety Code 11362.5 (Prop 215) if they have a physician's recommendation or approval. Read more on medical marijuana laws and on new state MMRSA law.

Sale, transportation or distribution of marijuana is a felony under Health and Safety Code Sections 11360. Transporting or giving away one ounce or less is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $100 fine.

Sale or distribution to minors is a felony under Health and Safety Code 11361.

Marijuana paraphernalia are illegal to sell or manufacture, but not possess, under Health and Safety Code 11364. All marijuana paraphernalia are subject to seizure by the police.

Driving suspension for minors: Any minor (age under 21) convicted of any marijuana, alcohol, or other drug offense faces a 12-month drivers license suspension, regardless of whether the offense was driving-related. The court may allow restricted license privileges if the minor demonstrates a "critical need to drive." Vehicle Code 13202.5. (Note: This penalty can be avoided by entering a diversion program).

Driving under the influence: It is unlawful to drive while under the influence of marijuana (or alcohol or any other drug) by Vehicle Code 23152. "Under the influence" is not specifically defined in the statute, but is interpreted to imply some degree of impairment. Therefore the mere fact of having taken a toke of marijuana does not necessarily mean one is DUI. For evidence of impairment, officers may administer a field sobriety test. Arrestees may also be required to submit to their choice of a urine or blood test under Vehicle Code 23612. Since marijuana is detectable for much longer periods in urine than in blood (several days vs. several hours), a positive urine test constitutes much weaker proof of recent use and impairment than a positive blood test. If you haven't smoked marijuana recently and are not under the influence, you are better off to choose a blood test, since you will probably pass it. However, if you are a chronic smoker or have smoked recently, you are better off to choose a urine test; even though you can expect to test positive, the question will at least remain open as to whether you were actually "under the influence" at time of arrest.

Marijuana in a Vehicle: Drivers found in possession of less than one ounce of marijuana in their vehicle are liable for a maximum $100 misdemeanor fine under Vehicle Code 23222 (larger amounts are punishable under H&SC 11357(a) and 11359).

Forfeiture: Unlike federal law, California law requires a conviction for forfeiture of property involved in a drug crime. Also unlike federal law, state law does not permit forfeiture of personal real estate for marijuana cultivation. Vehicles may be forfeited only if 10 pounds or more of marijuana is involved. Health and Safety Code 11470.

California Law search full text of codes:

Federal Law: Marijuana is also illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Federal charges are typically brought only in large cases where commercial distribution is suspected (e.g., cultivation of several hundred plants).

Medical marijuana patients are not protected while on federal park land or forest land in California. CalNORML has received reports of campers and those driving through federal land who are searched, charged with federal possession statutes, and had their medicine confiscated. A California medical recommendation is not a defense in federal court to these charges.

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