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Quick guide to California marijuana laws

If you live in California, you might be confused or have misconceptions about the laws surrounding possession and use of marijuana. Failing to understand the specifics of California marijuana laws could result in a criminal charge or another penalty. Due to significant updates in the laws in recent years along with continued limitations, here is what you need to know to clear up confusion:

Recreational use

California voters approved Proposition 64, drastically relaxing the marijuana laws in the state. Per the new law, adults who are 21 or older may legally buy, possess and consume as much as 28.5 grams of the herb or 8 grams of concentrate in private residences and establishments with marijuana consumption licenses. The law also contains provisions allowing adults to grow six marijuana plants in a secure place that is not publicly visible.

It is important to remember that it remains illegal to smoke marijuana while driving, in places where smoking tobacco is prohibited and in any public place. Possessing marijuana on the property of a school, youth center or daycare center is also still illegal.

Medical use

Protections and regulations for medical use of marijuana remain intact. Qualified patients or primary caregivers of patients are afforded protections under the medical cannabis laws. To qualify, a physician must approve or recommend medical use of the drug, which usually involves making a written recommendation. Patients with a recommendation are exempt from the sales tax.

Charges and limitations

Despite medical and recreational protections, you must adhere to the specific limits of the law. Penalties include:

18 and under possession: Mandatory community service and drug education course.

Over 21 possession over 28.5 grams: Misdemeanor charge, including $500 in fines and/or jail time of as many as six months.

Selling without a license: Misdemeanor charge, including $500 in fines and/or jail time of as many as six months.

Employers are still able to enforce marijuana screening policies. Landlords can prohibit possessing marijuana on their properties.

Drug laws can be confusing, especially when federal laws are different. If you possess, consume or sell marijuana, it is important to follow the laws so you do not get charged with a misdemeanor or face other consequences. If you are facing a drug possession or sale charge, it is crucial to understand your rights and potential defense arguments. Consult with a criminal defense lawyer for advice regarding your defense and the best way to reduce or drop the charges you face.

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