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Holidazed and Confused

By Criminal Defense Attorney on January 12, 2018

Many people in San Diego looked forward eagerly to January 1, 2018—the day that recreational marijuana became legal in California. But before you blaze any further, there are a few things you should know. Marijuana is not legal for everyone, and there are still restrictions in place. Understanding the new laws will help everyone abide by them, and ensure you stay arrest-free!

Cannabis Legislation in California

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) governs marijuana use as of January 1st. Some important takeaways from that legislation are:

  • Only individuals over the age of 21 may purchase or consume marijuana.
  • Individuals over 18 may receive medical cannabis if they have a prescription from their doctor and permission from their parents or guardian.
  • The amount of marijuana adults may have on them at any time is 28.5 grams of flower and 8 grams of concentrates such as oil, wax, or edibles.
  • Any amount of cannabis over one ounce must be stored in a person’s home, in a locked area, and not be within view of the public.
  • Cannabis cannot be smoked or consumed in a public place.
  • Individuals cannot have more than six cannabis plants growing at their residence at any time.
  • Cannabis cannot be smoked or consumed while driving or operating a vehicle, such as a boat or aircraft.
  • Individuals cannot smoke or consume cannabis while passengers in a vehicle.
  • Cannabis cannot be in an open container in a vehicle, similar to California’s open container alcohol laws.
  • Cannabis concentrates such as oil or wax may not be made using a volatile solvent such as butane, except by manufacturers who have obtained a license from the state.

In addition, AUMA gives rights to others when they suspect someone has been using cannabis. These include:

  • Employers will still have a right to prohibit the use of cannabis at the workplace; they may still administer drug tests to ensure employees are abiding by the rules.
  • Landlords may restrict the use of cannabis by tenants on their property.
  • Government agencies may prohibit or restrict the use of cannabis on the property of any building they own or occupy.

As of January 1st, cannabis dispensaries are open for business. These dispensaries require a license, for which there are two types – “A” for adult use or “M” for medicinal. Some dispensaries may choose to have both “A” and “M” designations. Some areas of California also allow delivery service. Others do not. In San Diego, only licensed dispensaries can legally offer deliveries.

Individuals may also choose to sell or give away up to one ounce of cannabis to another person. It is not legal to sell more than one ounce to anyone without a license.

Penalties for Cannabis Offenses

If any person violates the above cannabis laws, he will face a number of penalties. Typically, those under the age of 18 will not face fines or imprisonment, but they will be required to perform community service and attend drug counseling or drug education classes.

Adult offenders charged with a first-time offense will typically face an infraction charge or a misdemeanor. Cannabis infractions, like traffic infractions, only result in a fine. If a person is charged with a misdemeanor, he may face up to $500 in fines and up to six months in jail. When there are extenuating circumstances—such as prior convictions, environmental offenses, or involving minors in the crime—the charge could be increased to a felony.

The prosecution may also decide to increase the charge to “conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor” if more than one person is involved in the crime. (This may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.) For instance, if a person wanted to sell more than one ounce of marijuana flowers to another person, they both may be charged with conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor.

If You Plan to Partake, Be Sensible

Californians should be familiar with our state’s new cannabis laws so they can comply and not be penalized. While cannabis is legal now, it is certainly not a free-for-all. These laws will help keep everyone safe while allowing you to enjoy recreational cannabis in a responsible manner.

If you have questions or were accused of violating California’s cannabis laws, you will need a San Diego drug crimes attorney. At JD Law, our founding attorney, James N. Dicks, is a former Los Angeles police detective and narcotics investigator. For a free consultation with Mr. Dicks about your case, call (760) 630-2000.

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