Health and Safety Code § 11357 Possession of Less Than One Ounce of Marijuana
Beginning January 2018, recreational use of marijuana became legal in California, allowing persons 21 years and older to possess up to one ounce, or 28.5 grams of marijuana. The law was a direct result of Proposition 64 the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which was approved in November of 2017. This new law does not change any statues or regulations pertaining to medicinal marijuana use, nor does it completely legalize marijuana use in every situation. As all laws, there are some strings attached that you should be aware of as a consumer.
Limitations of Marijuana Possession in California
The legalization of marijuana in California does not extend indefinitely, and you can still get incriminated for surpassing its limits. According to California Health and Safety Code § 11357, those limits are as follows:
HS 11357 Possession Offense
Type of Offense
Possession of marijuana and/or concentrated cannabis by individuals under the age of 21
Drug counseling and community service hours for minors and a fine of $100 for those 18 and older
Owning more than 28.5 grams of marijuana and/or more than 8 grams of concentrated cannabis for minors (under 18 years of age)
Drug counseling and community service hours
Having marijuana and/or concentrated cannabis in a K-12 institution while a minor (under 18 years of age)
Drug counseling and community service hours
Owning more than 28.5 grams of marijuana and/or more than 8 grams of concentrated cannabis (18 years of age and up)
A maximum sentence of 6 months in county jail as well as a $500 fee
Having marijuana and/or concentrated cannabis in a K-12 institution (18 years of age and up)
Up to a $250 fee for the first offense, with subsequent offenses incurring additional penalties
Possession of Marijuana Health and Safety Code 11357
Possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana or more than 8 grams of concentrated cannabis (hashish) is still illegal under California’s Health and Safety Code 11357. The above chart summarizes the consequences one may face for having excessive amounts of marijuana. Typically, for adults these consequences are deemed misdemeanors and will usually result in a fine of no more than $500 and/or 6 months in county jail, while for minors the crime is merely an infraction and the penalties are to attend drug counseling sessions and community service hours.
Possession of Marijuana on School Grounds in California
Having marijuana on school grounds is also illegal: for adults it is a misdemeanor and for minors it is an infraction. The penalties for minors who commit this crime are identical to the penalties that a minor may face if they possess excessive amounts of marijuana. For adults, it will usually result in a $250 fee for the first offense. Bear in mind that possessing any amount of marijuana at all as a minor is still illegal even in California, and the consequences range from paying a fine to facing drug education or counseling programs and community service.
How An Los Angeles Marijuana Defense Attorney Can Help
There are several legal defenses that a skilled Los Angeles marijuana defense attorney can provide in cases that involve charges of illegal marijuana possession in California. These defenses include:
-You didn’t own the marijuana in question
- If you did not own the marijuana, then you are not guilty of a crime. This can apply if, for instance, the police accused you of having marijuana that did not belong to you. You can potentially argue that the marijuana belonged to a friend whose clothes or bag you were borrowing, or that someone slipped the drug into your belongings in order to evade their own sentencing.
-You were not aware that you had any marijuana
- Likewise, if you were not aware of having any marijuana, then you have not violated the law. This is because mere possession of marijuana is not sufficient in and of itself to warrant a conviction. The prosecutor does need to demonstrate that you were aware of your dominion over the drug, otherwise you are entitled to an acquittal. Going along with the previous examples, if an acquaintance leaves their marijuana in your bag without your knowledge or understanding, then you are not guilty of violating the law.
-The marijuana in question was procured in an illegal search or seizure
- Many times, California drug crimes and accusations come out of illegally obtained evidence as a result of them coming from an unsanctioned search or seizure. There are laws in place to protect your belongings and private property and if the authorities do not expressly follow those laws, then any evidence they may discover is not valid in a court of law. Quite often, police violate California’s search and seizure laws when they obtain evidence or drugs by performing a search without a valid California search warrant, when they issue a search or initiate a stop without proper motive or suspicion, or when they search somewhere that is beyond the scope of the warrant or suspected person. In such scenarios, an aware attorney can file a Penal Code 1538.5 PC motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence, which will likely result in a dismissal or significant reduction to the original charges.
If you or someone you know is accused of violating California Health and Safety Code 11357 or California Vehicle Code 23222(b) illegal to possess marijuana while driving a vehicle we welcome you to give us a call at 310-933-5171 to speak to a defense attorney for a free consultation.
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