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On January 1, 2018, the use of cannabis (marijuana) for recreational purposes became legal throughout California. However, this law did not serve as a blanket absolution on all things cannabis. There are some actions involving cannabis which are, even now, illegal. Further, some of them carry substantial penalties, both monetarily and in prison time. As a result, it is crucial that any cannabis related criminal charges be handled by a criminal defense attorney with experience in drug-related crimes. Recently, a California woman was charged with felony drug trafficking when she was caught in Idaho with 16 pounds of cannabis in her vehicle. Police believe she traveled repeatedly between California and Idaho with large amounts of cannabis. A discussion of the current status of cannabis in California will follow below.


Recreational Cannabis


Pursuant to state law, as of January 1, 2018, persons 21 and older can possess up to 28.5 grams of dried, or 8 grams of concentrated, cannabis. Such individuals may also grow up to six cannabis plants for their personal use. Individuals who exceed these amounts may be charged with a misdemeanor and may be sentenced to up to 6 months in jail and/or fined up to $500. Individuals under 21 caught in possession of cannabis may be sentenced to a fine (if between 18 and 21) or to drug counseling and community service (if under 18).


Additionally, the cannabis cannot be smoked where tobacco smoking is prohibited, and must be ingested in private, with the consent of the property owner. Thus, a landlord or employer can prohibit the use of cannabis in rental property or at one’s place of employment, respectively. And, cannabis may not be possessed on school property.


Federal Law


It should be remembered that, while possession and ingestion of cannabis is now legal under California law, it remains a Schedule 1 drug under the United States Controlled Substances Act. Further, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently changed the previous federal policy with respect to state cannabis laws. Thus, under the new policy, federal prosecutors in each state are free to enforce federal law, regardless of an individual’s compliance with state law. Although federal prosecutors in California have not indicated whether they will change their policy, or whether they will continue their hands off stance, it is crucial for individuals who wish to take advantage of recreational cannabis in California follow all related laws closely, so as to not give federal prosecutors any reason to change their policy.


Other California Crimes


While possession and cultivation of cannabis are permitted under California law, it is still illegal to sell cannabis, or possess it with the intent to sell, unless an individual possesses both a state and local license. Violation of this law is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or subject to fines of various degrees. However, in the following situations, violations of this law may result in a felony:

●     Individuals with a prior conviction for a violent felony, such as murder or sexually-violent offenses;

●     Individuals required to register as a sex offender;

●     Individuals with at least 2 prior convictions for the sale and/or trafficking of cannabis;

●     Individuals who sell (or offer to sell) cannabis to someone under 18; and

●     Individuals who import more than 28.5 grams of cannabis into, or transport out of, California.


Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney


It is important to be aware of the various aspects of California’s recreational cannabis law. If you have been charged with any aspect of this law, engage the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The Los Angeles attorneys at the Manshoory Law Group, APC handle a wide variety of criminal offenses, including drug-related matters, and know how to build a defense to obtain the best possible results. Attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact us today for an initial consultation.

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