Marijuana Possession Crimes in California, Part I

Beginning in 1996, California’s marijuana laws changed with the decriminalization of possession of marijuana (if under 28.5 grams) and legalization of medical marijuana. In 2016, with the passage of Proposition 64, personal marijuana consumption became legal in certain circumstances. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act came into effect on January 1, 2018. Under this law, adults 21 and over may purchase, possess, and consume marijuana so long as its up to 28.5 grams and it is possessed and used in their private residence or in an establishment licensed for marijuana consumption.

California’s Marijuana Possession Laws

In California, it is illegal and chargeable for any person to knowingly or intentionally manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance, and that includes marijuana. (See Business & Professions Code §26000, et. seq. and Health & Safety Code §11000 et. seq., §11357 et. seq., and §11362.7 et. seq.)

However, in California, recreational use of marijuana became legal on January 1, 2018, with the passage of Proposition 64. People age 21 and over may now possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana or eight grams of concentrated cannabis. People may also grow up to six plants for their personal use, subject to restrictions.  

Individuals who exceed these amounts can be charged with a misdemeanor and punished with a fine of up to $500 and/or incarceration for up to six months of time in county jail. Individuals under age 21 can be charged with an infraction if they possess marijuana and be sentenced to a fine (if at least 18 years of age) or to drug counseling or community service (if under 18 years of age).

Simple Possession vs. Possession With Intent to Distribute

Simple possession is considered the lowest category of a drug offense and relates to possession for personal use. Possession with intent to distribute relates to charges involving packaging and distribution of drugs commercially.

Actual vs. Constructive Possession

Possession of drugs can be actual or constructive. Actual possession in Los Angeles, California means that the substance is in the physical custody of the person being charged with possession. For example, the drugs are found in the person’s pocket or hand. Constructive possession means that the drugs are within the dominion and control or reach of the accused person. For example, the drugs are in the person’s backpack.

Seek a Knowledgeable Lawyer With Marijuana Crimes Experience

Los Angeles drug statutes and the various drug schedules and classifications are intricate and complicated. It is important for a person charged with a drug crime to have the assistance of an experienced Los Angeles, CA drug lawyer to navigate through the California criminal justice system and work collaboratively toward proving reasonable doubt and ultimately resolving the criminal case. Contact one of our drug lawyers today to begin your criminal defense. The Law Offices of James E. Blatt has offices in Beverly Hills and Encino to help you. Call us toll-free at (877) 546-2528. We are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Speak to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney today to begin your immediate defense to criminal charges.