California may have been a front-runner in legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, and one of the early handful of states to legalize it for recreational purposes on the first of this year, but that does not mean its use isn’t carefully regulated. In fact, California lawmakers have worked tirelessly to revise and structure marijuana laws to more clearly define what is and is not allowed when it comes to lawful cannabis use in a post-legalization world.
As we have discussed in some of our previous blog posts, there are still ways you can violate California marijuana laws, and ways you can still face criminal charges involving pot. While some of these may be generally consistent with laws throughout the country and pre-existing state laws, including laws on marijuana DUI, others are specific to the state of California.
Below, our Southern California criminal defense attorneys at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP detail a few important things you should know when it comes to California marijuana laws and restrictions:
- Marijuana use in public places – Just as alcohol is carefully regulated and not allowed in many public places, marijuana is also subject to restrictions when it comes to public spaces. Per California’s Health & Safety Code, you are prohibited from smoking, vaporizing, or ingesting cannabis and related products in any public place. There are some exceptions, such as when local jurisdictions permit cannabis consumption on the property of a licensed premises. Violations of the public consumption law are an infraction punishable by a $100 fine.
- Smoking marijuana in a non-smoking area – California has carefully regulated public smoking of tobacco products, and has applied that same law to marijuana. As such, it is unlawful to smoke (both combustible and vaporized) marijuana in any designated non-smoking area. It is also unlawful to vaporize or smoke pot within 1,000 feet of youth centers, schools, and day care facilities when children are present (with the exception of private use at a residence). Violations are punishable by a $250 infraction.
- Open container laws – If you are familiar with open container laws as they apply to alcohol, marijuana open container laws function in similar ways. In California, this means possessing an “open container” of marijuana while driving or riding as a passenger in a vehicle, boat, or plane is against the law (with the exception of specially licensed commercial vehicles without the presence of children). As defined by California’s Vehicle Code, an open container of marijuana is any containment device that has been opened or has a broken seal, as well as loose marijuana, not stored in a vehicle’s trunk. However, licensed patients under CA Prop 215 are permitted to possess marijuana containers that are closed or resealed.
- Marijuana possession restrictions – Possession of marijuana for personal use is no longer a crime in California, but possession is still restricted in some ways. Most obviously, this includes possession of unlawful amounts of marijuana (over an ounce of cannabis, over 8 grams of concentrate, and over six live marijuana plants). However, the possession of marijuana, even if it is not being actively consumed, is prohibited at schools, day care facilities, and other youth-focused centers when children are present ($100 fine). Possession of marijuana is also prohibited by minors under the age of 21. Minors ages 18 to 21 can face a $100 infraction for this violation, and minors under 18 face no fines, but can be required to perform community service and / or attend drug counseling.
In addition to these restrictions, there are still other ways you may be subject to more serious charges and penalties. Our recent blog discussed some of these crimes, including:
- Illegal cultivation
- Possession with the intent to sell
- Illegal sale / transportation / distribution
- Providing marijuana to minors
These crimes, along with any marijuana crimes prosecuted under federal law, can result in serious penalties and potential terms of imprisonment.
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Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP is comprised of award-winning criminal defense attorneys who have experience handling a range of drug crime, DUI, and marijuana-related charges in jurisdictions across Southern California, including the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, and Ventura County. If you or someone you love has been accused or a marijuana-related infraction, misdemeanor, felony, or federal crime, our legal team is available to help you learn more about the charges you face and how we may be able to help. To discuss your case personally with a member of our team during a FREE, confidential case evaluation, call (800) 462-7160 or contact us online.