The fact is you can be arrested in California for possession of marijuana. Thousands of people are arrested every year for having, selling, sharing, and using marijuana. Before we explain what to do if you are one of these unfortunate people, let's review what is actually legal and what is not.
Medical Marijuana in California (Prop 215)
This law allows for an adult over the age of 21 to grow and use marijuana for medical reasons. The amount of marijuana the patient has must be within their prescribed amount and they are exempt from any laws concerning growing that amount, carrying it, or using it. An individual is required to apply for a medical marijuana card, which they just show police officers if they are questioned.
The law defining Prop 215 is broadly written and many ailments can merit a medical marijuana card legally by a medical professional. While only 84,111 people have registered for a medical marijuana card, it is estimated that more than 200,000 people are medical marijuana consumers.
Possession of Under an Ounce of Marijuana (Prop 64)
In November 2016, Prop 64 was passed allowing any adult 21 and over to use, transport, and give away to any other adult over 21 up to one ounce of marijuana. Prop 64 further allows adults to grow six marijuana plants (indoors) for their personal use.
Employers and owners are not required to allow marijuana in their workplace. Just as the passing of Prop 215 had a huge impact on the number of arrests of marijuana possessors, Prop 64 will impact thousands of people.
Currently, there are still thousands of arrests for marijuana possession every year. Let’s see what is illegal in California concerning pot.
- You may not use, carry, or sell marijuana for someone under the age of 21.
- You may not have an open container of marijuana, use marijuana while driving or riding in an automobile.
- You may not smoke or vaporize pot within 1000 feet of a school.
- You may not consume marijuana in a public place.
- You may not have more than one ounce of marijuana in your possession.
Breaking these laws can result in fines, and/or arrest. The majority of arrests for marijuana in California were felony charges.
Felony Marijuana Charges
A person who has more than the legal amount of marijuana in their possession, without a governmental license to sell can be charged with intent to sell. There are several factors the police will consider:
- Did they see you sell marijuana or did you state that you were selling it?
- Was it packaged in small containers like one would use to sell the drug?
- Did you know it was illegal and know it was there?
- Did you have other paraphernalia such as scales, papers, and items used to smoke marijuana?
Many of these considerations are circumstantial and open for interpretation from the officer. There are still tens of thousands of arrests made on marijuana charges every year. Blacks and Hispanics are often targeted unfairly.
What Should You Do if You Get Arrested for Marijuana?
- Call a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney immediately. Your attorney will know how to defend your case, with the ultimate goal being to keep you out of jail.
- Be cooperative with police, but do not give a statement or sign anything about the arrest until your attorney advises you to.
It is important to understand your rights and the laws regarding marijuana if you are going to consume it. The police can assume you were going to sell the product based on the factors mentioned above, but they have to be able to prove it. You need an attorney!
Whether you have a medical condition, or you enjoy some weed from time to time, be smart. Do not transport large amounts and do not drive while you are under the influence. Be smart and be informed and let your attorney take it from there.
by Douglas Miranda
About the Author
Los Angeles criminal attorney, Douglas Miranda graduated with honors from California State University, Los Angeles, and earned his J.D. from the Western State College of Law in Fullerton. Since his admission to practice law in California, he has received special training and certification in areas including forensic science, jury selection, and sex crime defense. Mr. Miranda has also helped scores of clients terminate their probations early and expunge their criminal records.