In California, out with the old and in with the new should be the new motto. The legalization of recreational marijuana use hits the ballots in the Golden State in November, 2016, potentially making California the fifth and largest state to fully legalize recreational use of pot in the U.S.
If legalized, California would be joining Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia in allowing recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and would reduce many of the marijuana drug crimes in the state.
So what would changes in this “budding” industry mean for California legally?
According to the [i]California Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, if recreationally legalized, residents of sunny California can expect some of the following changes:
- Like current alcohol laws, marijuana would be legal for purchase and consumption by residents aged 21 and over.
- Adults over the age of 21 would be allowed to cultivate marijuana at their home, in a garden space not exceeding 100 square feet.
- Old criminal marijuana laws would be repealed and replaced with new, more lenient regulations*:
- $100 fine for possession of less than an ounce for people aged 18-20
- $500 fine for adults over the age of 21 sharing marijuana with people under 21.
- $500 fine possessing more than one ounce outside of the home
- $500 for smoking marijuana in public or where otherwise prohibited
- Possible criminal implications for possessing more than 1 pound
- Possible criminal implications for any cultivation by persons under the age of 21
- Juvenile offenses will be punished by fines ranging from $100-$500 for first and second time offenses, with the third offense being punished by 10 days in a juvenile facility.
- Felony “wobbler” offenses will be treated as either misdemeanors with punishments of up to 6 months in jail and/or $1000.00 fines or as felonies. These wobbler offenses include; the cultivation of marijuana on county, state or federal property, exporting marijuana out of state, trafficking, using violence in marijuana sales and distribution.
- Smoking marijuana while driving or operating a boat or plane will be a misdemeanor and carry a punishment of up to 6 months in jail and a $1000 fine.
- You can be fined $50.00 for every ounce in your possession over the legal limit.
- For home cultivation, you can be fined $10 for every square foot exceeding the legal limit, OR a flat fee of $2000 per day can be implemented for each day you allow space exceeding 100 SF in your home grow area.
- The legalization of recreational marijuana use will allow for tens of thousands of people to have prior drug criminal records expunged. For some, these convictions are the only things damaging an otherwise clean criminal history.
- Because the use of marijuana would be legal, the court system can no longer use recreational use as a reason to remove children from a home where use is prevalent. Parents no longer face a risk of losing their children to social services for the consumption of marijuana.
With California’s new drug laws on the horizon, the grass truly can be greener on the other side, however it is important to remember that these laws have not yet gone into effect, and current marijuana laws and punishments are still applied, enforced and applicable. Even in the event of major marijuana law reform, you will still have to adhere to many rules comparable to those applied to alcohol use. Keep in mind that landlords will have the legal right to ban the use of marijuana on their property. Employers may require that you test negatively for THC, or deem a marijuana related conviction grounds for firing. You may be deemed ineligible for employment at certain place if you test positively for THC. Like cigarette smoke, individual cities may post and enforce “no smoking” signs by order of the law, and issue citations for those in violation of local ordinance.
If you have any questions about California’s marijuana reform laws, or need information or legal advice regarding current policy, feel free to give the attorneys at Shield Criminal Defense Law a call today. We are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions at (213) 514-8732.
*This list is not exhaustive. For a full scope of California’s up to date laws and penal codes please contact an attorney.
[i] THE CONTROL, REGULATE, AND TAX CANNABIS ACT OF 2016. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2016, from http://www.reformca.com/2016