California Laws and Penalties - NORML (2023)

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  • Expungement
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  • Medical Marijuana
OffensePenaltyIncarcerationMax. Fine

Possession

Personal Use

Up to 1 ozNo penaltyNone$ 0
28.5 grams or less, over 18 years, and occurred on school groundsMisdemeanor10 days$ 500
28.5 grams or less, under 18 yearsMisdemeanor10 days*$ 250
More than 28.5 gramsMisdemeanor6 months$ 500

With Intent to Distribute

Any amountMisdemeanor6 months$ 500
*Detention center

Sale or Delivery

Any amountMisdemeanor6 months$ 500
Gift of 28.5 grams or lessNo penaltyN/A$ 100
Over 18 years to an individual 14-17 yearsFelony3 - 5 yearsN/A
Over 18 years to an individual under 14 yearsFelony3 - 7 yearsN/A

Cultivation

Up to 6 plantsNo penaltyNone$ 0
6 plants or moreMisdemeanor6 months$ 500

Hash & Concentrates

Up to 8 gNo penaltyNone$ 0
8 g or moreMisdemeanor6 months$ 500
Unauthorized manufactureN/A16 months - 3 years$ 500
Chemical manufactureN/A3 - 7 years$ 50,000

Paraphernalia

Sale, delivery, possession with intent, and manufacture with intentMisdemeanor15 days - 6 months$ 500
Involving a minor at least 3 years juniorMisdemeanor1 year$ 1,000

Forfeiture

Vehicles and other property may be seized for controlled substance violations.

Miscellaneous

Using a minor in the unlawful sale or transport of marijuana is a Felony punishable by 3-7 years imprisonment. Inducing a minor to use marijuana is also a Felony punishable by 3-7 years imprisonment.
Any violation of the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act results in a fine up to $150.
A person who participates in the illegal marketing of marijuana is liable for civil damages.
It is a Misdemeanor to loiter in a public place with the intent to commit certain controlled substances offenses.
A controlled substance conviction can result in suspension of driving privileges.

Penalty Details

Marijuana is a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance under the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

  • California Health & Safety Code § 11054(d)(13)Web Search

Possession for Personal Use

Proposition 64, The Adult Use Marijuana Act, permits adults over 21 years of age who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program to legally grow (up to six plants, including all of the harvest from those plants) and to possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce of flower and/or up to eight grams of concentrates) while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. The law took effect on November 9, 2016.Read more »

Possession of more than 28.5 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine up to $500. If the amount possessed is 28.5 grams or less but the person is 18 years of age or older and the possession occurred on school grounds, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 10 days imprisonment and/or a fine up to $500. If the offender was younger than 18 years of age, then the offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $250 for the first offense and a fine up to $500 or commitment to a detention center for up to 10 days.

  • California Health & Safety Code § 11357Web Search

Possession with Intent to Distribute

Possession with intent to distribute more than one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by 6 months imprisonment and a fine of $500.

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Sale/Delivery

Monetary transactions involving the sale or delivery of any amount of marijuana by someone who does not possess a state licensed permit is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. However, gifting marijuana in quantities up to one ounce for no remuneration is legal.

  • California Health & Safety Code § 11360Web Search

Delivery or attempted delivery of any amount of marijuana by an individual aged 18 years or older to an individual who is 14-17 years old is a felony punishable by 3-5 years imprisonment. Delivery or attempted delivery of any amount of marijuana by an individual aged 18 years or older to an individual who is under the age of 14 is a felony punishable by 3-7 years imprisonment. Sale or attempted sale of any amount of marijuana by an individual aged 18 years or older to an individual under 18 years of age is a felony punishable by 3-7 years imprisonment.

  • California Health & Safety Code § 11361Web Search

Cultivation

Proposition 64, The Adult Use Marijuana Act, permits adults over 21 years of age who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program to legally grow (up to six plants, including all of the harvest from those plants). The law took effect on November 9, 2016.Read more »

Hash & Concentrates

In California, hashish or concentrates are referred to as “concentrated cannabis”. Proposition 64, The Adult Use Marijuana Act, permits adults over 21 years of age who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program to possess up to eight grams of concentrates. The law took effect on November 9, 2016.Read more »

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The penalties associated with the manufacture of hashish or concentrates depends on what method was used during the manufacture. If the manufacturing process involved extraction chemicals, such as butane, then it is considered manufacture by means of chemical synthesis of a controlled substance. Manufacture by means of chemical synthesis of a controlled substance carries a fine no greater than $50,000 and a term of imprisonment of 3, 5, or 7 years as determined by the court. If the manufacturing process utilized screens, presses, or any other means not involving a chemical synthesis, then the offense is considered unauthorized processing of marijuana. Unauthorized processing of marijuana carries a term of imprisonment 16 months, 2 years, or three years as determined by the court.

Apart from the provisions mentioned, concentrated cannabis is included within the definition of marijuana for all other offenses, such as intent to sell, providing to a minor, etc. For information concerning those offenses, check the California marijuana laws section of this website.

Paraphernalia

There is no penalty for the simple possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Sale, delivery, possession with intent to sell or deliver, and manufacture with intent to sell or deliver marijuana paraphernalia is a misdemeanor punishable by 15-180 days imprisonment and/or a fine of $30-$500. Delivery of marijuana paraphernalia by an individual aged 18 years or older to a minor at least 3 years his junior is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and/or a fine up to $1,000.

  • California Health & Safety Code § 11364.7Web Search
  • California Health & Safety Code § 11374Web Search

Sentencing

Possession for personal use, using or being under the influence of marijuana, presence in a room where a marijuana violation occurs, or cultivation of marijuana if the amount is for personal use are offenses that are eligible for deferred entry of judgment if certain conditions are met. These include: no prior convictions for controlled substances violations; the offense charged did not involve violence; there is no evidence that narcotics or restricted dangerous drugs were involved; the offender has never had probation or parole revoked; the offender has not completed this deferred entry within 5 years of the time of the charged offense; and the offender has no felony convictions within 5 years of the time of the charged offense.

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Probation may be available for marijuana offenses. As a condition of probation for controlled substances violations, offenders must participate in education or treatment if the court determines that it will benefit the offender. Sentences for many violations may not be eligible for probation or suspension if the offender has been previously convicted of a felony offense involving a controlled substance.

Forfeiture

Vehicles and other property may be seized for controlled substance violations. Upon conviction for sale, possession with intent to distribute, or cultivation of marijuana, the seized property becomes the property of the state. If law enforcement seizes property which it does not intend to use as evidence and the seizing agency does not refer the case to the Attorney General for forfeiture proceedings within 15 days, the property must be returned. If the Attorney General intends to pursue a forfeiture proceeding, then a person claiming interest in the property has 30 days from actual notice or publication of notice of the proceedings to respond.

  • California Health & Safety Code §§ 11469-11495Web Search

Miscellaneous

Involvement of a minor in a drug offense

Using a minor in the unlawful sale or transport of marijuana is a felony punishable by 3-7 years imprisonment. Inducing a minor to use marijuana is also a felony punishable by 3-7 years imprisonment.

  • California Health & Safety Code § 11361Web Search
Drug program fee

Any violation of the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act results in a fine up to $150 in addition to the authorized fine for the offense.

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  • California Health & Safety Code § 11372.7Web Search
Drug Dealer Liability Act

A person who participates in the illegal marketing of marijuana is liable for civil damages caused by these actions.

  • California Health & Safety Code §§ 11700-11717Web Search
Loitering for drug activities

It is a misdemeanor to loiter in a public place with the intent to commit certain controlled substances offenses.

  • California Health & Safety Code §§ 11530-11538Web Search
Suspension of Driving Privileges

A controlled substance conviction can result in suspension of driving privileges for up to 3 years if the use of a motor vehicle was used in or incidental to the offense. For each drug-related conviction that a person 13-20 years old may receive, their driving privileges are suspended for 1 year, but if the person does not yet have the privilege to drive, suspension will begin at the time the person becomes legally eligible to drive.

More Information

FAQs

How long do you go to jail for drug possession in California? ›

Drug Possession Jail Time in California

After Proposition 47, drug possession crimes are punished as misdemeanors only, with penalties including up to one year in the county jail and a $1000 fine.

Are dabs illegal in CA? ›

Although you may legally possess concentrated cannabis with a prescription and a medical marijuana license, the unlawful possession of concentrated cannabis is a crime in California. All criminal laws that apply to marijuana also apply to concentrated cannabis.

What happens if you get caught with drugs in California? ›

If you are caught with illegal drugs, you are more likely to be charged with illegal drug possession with the intent to sell, which is a felony. If police seize large quantities of drugs, you may face drug trafficking charges, which result in felony charges and severe penalties including lengthy prison sentences.

How many grams can you legally buy in California? ›

Purchasing Pot in California

Adults 21 or older can legally possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana, as well as up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate. If you are wondering if you can legally grow marijuana in California, the answer is yes.

What amount of drugs is considered a felony in California? ›

Plus, any persons possessing or offering for sale 14.25 grams or more of a substance containing heroin can also be convicted of a drug felony violation (11352.5).

Do first time drug offenders go to jail? ›

Many federal drug charges, even for first-time offenders, can carry serious penalties as charges tend to be multiple instead of a single offense. A federal misdemeanor at the lowest drug charge level, for example, requires 15 days of prison after one prior conviction.

Is a dab pen a felony in California? ›

If you are over the age of 21, then possession of more than 8 grams of wax or dabs is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a $500 fine.

Are dabs a felony in California? ›

Possession of more than 8 grams of concentrated cannabis products, including hashish, cannabis oils, extracts, wax, dabs, etc can be a felony offense and can bring jail time if you are found guilty of the charges.

Can you have edibles in your car in California? ›

Marijuana countdown

Q: Can I get in trouble for driving with marijuana in my car? A: Similar to alcohol laws, the state can issue a $100 infraction for driving with an “open container.” The bill defines an open container as any receptacle of marijuana or weed products (edibles, vape pens, etc.)

What are the drug laws in California? ›

Prescription drugs are legal in California as long as you have a valid, lawful prescription. Marijuana is also legal in the state. As of November 2016, voters of California passed Prop 64, which decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Can you go to jail for using drugs in California? ›

Defendants who do not qualify can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the drug and the amount of possession. Some of these charges could lead to several years in jail. Jail time is not the only consequence of a drug conviction, though.

Can I be charged with possession if I had nothing on me? ›

If the police conduct a lawful search and find drugs on your person—i.e., in your coat pocket—you can be charged with illegal possession of a controlled substance. However, even if you are not actually carrying any drugs, you may still be convicted of a crime if you had “constructive” possession of narcotics.

How much ammo can I legally own in California? ›

There are no restrictions on the quantity (how much) ammunition you can buy or what caliber (what you buy does not have to match the caliber of any gun you have registered). This does not apply to reloading supplies; powder, bullets, primers, cases, etc.

How much can you buy at a California dispensary? ›

Recreational: A retailer may sell up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana flower or a combination of marijuana flower and up to 5 grams of marijuana concentrate, totaling no more than 2 1/2 ounces in a day.

Is it illegal to give ammo to a friend in California? ›

It also authorizes people to freely share (but not sell) ammunition in person with friends and shooting partners, unless they have reason to believe that the ammunition would be illegally provided to a criminal or illegal user.

How long does a drug felony stay on your record in California? ›

If you've been convicted of a felony in Los Angeles, that will remain on your criminal record indefinitely. That is, unless, you file a petition to have your conviction expunged. Certain felonies in California can be expunged – or removed – from your record.

How much coke is a felony in California? ›

Possession or purchase of up to one kilogram of cocaine base or crack with the intent to sell is a felony punishable by three, four or five years in prison and a maximum fine of $20,000 for each offense. [Cal. Health and Safety Code, Sections 11351.5, 11372, and Penal Code, Section 1170(h)].

How do you get a drug possession charge dropped in California? ›

When Can Drug Charges Be Dropped in California?
  1. The arresting officer did not read the defendant their Miranda rights.
  2. The defendant was not informed that anything you say may be used against you in court.
  3. The police did not allow the defendant to have an attorney present during questioning.

What percentage of drug users go to jail? ›

While the exact rates of inmates with substance use disorders (SUDs) is difficult to measure, some research shows that an estimated 65% percent of the United States prison population has an active SUD.

What is the mandatory minimum sentence for drugs in the US? ›

Mandatory Minimums for Drug Crimes
SubstanceMinimumMaximum
Simple possession of a controlled substance with 1 prior conviction15 days2 years
Simple possession of a controlled substance with 2 or more priors90 days3 years
Drug kingpin20 yearslife
repeat offender30 yearslife
26 more rows
11 Jan 2018

What are nonviolent drug offenses? ›

Non-violent drug offenders are often considered persons that have possession of drugs or have consumed illegal substances but are not inherently violent. When eating, drinking or taking illicit drugs or even prescription drugs, these individuals are not a threat or a risk to public safety.

Can drug dogs smell dab pens in a car? ›

So if you're wondering whether dogs can smell dab pens, the answer is an unwavering yes. Whether you're inhaling marijuana or tobacco, dogs are able to sniff it out, even if the vape pen is small and discrete.

Are dab pens considered paraphernalia? ›

Vaporizers, Vape Pens, and Dabs

Used for tobacco as well, here are kinds of drug paraphernalia that are popular because they hide smells. Vaporizers, in many forms, can be used for weed, hash, liquids, and hash oil.

Is making bubble hash illegal in California? ›

Concentrated cannabis is a Schedule 1 hallucinogenic controlled substance under California law. So it is illegal to produce hashish from marijuana by means of chemical extraction.

Can you get hash in California? ›

There are a number of ways to make hash, however to produce it legally in California it must be made without butane or other chemical solvents to extract the resin. Concentrated cannabis is also known as: “hash,” “wax”

Can you smoke a blunt in public in California? ›

Where can one smoke marijuana? According to CA State law, one cannot smoke marijuana or marijuana products in any public place or in any location where smoking or vaporizing tobacco is prohibited.

Can edibles get through security? ›

The quick answer is no (1). According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), taking cannabis products on an airplane is illegal. The TSA states that marijuana and cannabis-infused products remain illegal under federal law.

Do edibles show up in security? ›

TSA isn't looking for your stash of weed chocolate . Because edibles look just like regular snacks, they're the easiest cannabis products to get through security.

Can you take edibles through TSA in California? ›

It is illegal to fly with edibles even if you're in a state where cannabis is legal and the edibles were manufactured and sold in accordance with state law, says Seth A.

What is the new drug law in California? ›

No more mandatory minimums for drug crimes

This new law eliminates the mandatory prison and jail sentences for certain drug offenses and allows judges to order probation instead.

Is possession 9/10 of the law in California? ›

Possession is often an element of criminal charges related to drugs and/or weapons. But there is no criminal statute that defines possession by the 9/10 rule.

Is Coke a felony in California? ›

The Penalties for Possession of Cocaine under California Law

California Health and Safety Code 11350 HS prohibits the possession of controlled substances such as cocaine. Violating this statute is a felony involving a prison sentence between 16 months and 3 years along with a possible fine of up to $20,000.

Which drugs are illegal in California? ›

Specific drugs
  • Alcohol.
  • Amphetamines.
  • Cannabis.
  • Cocaine/Crack.
  • Heroin and other opiates.
  • Ketamine.
  • MDMA (ecstasy)
  • Nicotine and tobacco products.

What can you lose if you are convicted of drug possession in California? ›

Simple drug possession is most often charged as a misdemeanor (as opposed to a felony or an infraction). A conviction of this criminal charge is punishable by: imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, and/or. a maximum fine of $1,000.

What happens if you get charged with drugs? ›

In the vast majority of instances, the police will take immediate action, starting with an arrest, followed by further questioning. Even the smallest amount of cocaine warrants an arrest. Possession of cocaine will lead to a maximum of seven years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

Can I be charged with possession if I had nothing on me in California? ›

In order to convict you of possession of a controlled substance for sale under California Health and Safety Code section 11351, the prosecution must prove that you knew of the presence of the drug while it was in your possession. If you had no knowledge of the drug's presence you cannot be convicted of this offense.

Can you get in trouble for being around drugs? ›

The United States has clear, explicit drug laws at the federal, state, and local levels. Sometimes just being around drugs can justify an arrest and conviction, even if you're not using drugs and the drugs aren't yours. Depending on the laws in your area, even having drug paraphernalia may be cause for an arrest.

What are considered acts of possession? ›

You have “actual” possession of something when you have direct and immediate physical control over it. Examples of actual possession of an item include: you are holding or touching it. it is concealed somewhere on your body.

Can I own a 15 round magazine in California? ›

It is now settled law that large-capacity magazines are illegal in California. On November 30, 2021, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Penal Code 32310, which bans these devices.

Are hollow points legal in CA? ›

As defined by law, certain types of ammunition are illegal to possess. Restricted ammunition includes both armor piercing and hollow point bullets, along with other weaponry. Restricted ammunition includes what legislators have deemed to be particularly dangerous.

Are ammunition purchases tracked? ›

After a yearslong fight and even more decades of gun violence, major financial institutions now have a way to track and flag suspicious purchases of firearms or ammunition. A new merchant code for firearm and ammunition retailers has been introduced by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Why do California dispensaries only take cash? ›

Dispensaries can't use cards because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level. This means that banks and credit card companies won't allow marijuana-related transactions to be facilitated over their network.

How much does a dispensary owner make a year in California? ›

On average, dispensary owners make between $100,000 and $500,000 per year. There are many factors that determine this, such as your overhead costs, monthly rent, loans, income, profit margin, foot traffic, and eCommerce channel. Luckily, we wrote a guide to outline what factors affect dispensary owner income.

How much does the average dispensary make in California? ›

As of Nov 5, 2022, the average annual pay for the Dispensary jobs category in California is $43,892 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $21.10 an hour. This is the equivalent of $844/week or $3,657/month.

Can I buy ammo in Nevada if I live in California? ›

Well as we mentioned in that message, a resident of California can legally buy ammunition in Nevada! Just do not drive a single round of that ammunition across the CA/NV state line!

Can I ship ammo to my brother in California? ›

Shipping Ammo to California

If you want to ship ammunition to California, you will have to send it to a licensed vendor first before you can receive it. You must be a California resident and pass a background check at the time of purchase, which will cost an additional fee.

Do you have to lock up ammo in California? ›

Any local ordinances requiring unloaded firearms at home would conflict with the Heller decision. You ammunition does not have to be stored separately. The safest way to keep a child from injuring themselves with firearms is age appropriate firearm safety training.

What sentence do you get for drug possession? ›

The maximum sentences for possession of each class of drug are: up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine (or both) for a Class A drug. up to five years in prison or an unlimited fine (or both) for a Class B drug.

What is the sentence for possession of drugs with intent to supply? ›

Offence range: Fine – 10 years' imprisonment.

What is the 6 classification of drugs? ›

The 6 Classifications of Drugs. When considering only their chemical makeup, there are six main classifications of drugs: alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines, cannabinoids, barbiturates, and hallucinogens.

How much is bail for drug possession in California? ›

In the state of California, bail for possession of drugs ranges from $20,000 to $750,000. Possession of drugs with intent for sale can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. The bail for possession of drugs for sale can range from $50,000 to $1,000,000.

How long does possession of drugs stay on your record? ›

It is worth knowing that a DBS check filter is eventually applied to most cautions, discharges and convictions for possessing drugs. This means that if you are over 18, after six years any cautions for drug possession will not come up on a DBS check. It takes 11 years for convictions for drug possession to be filtered.

What is the statute of limitations on drug charges in California? ›

This means that the prosecution must commence within three years of the offense being committed, according to the law. The statute of limitations is in effect as long as you are in the state of California.

How many grams is a felony in California? ›

Possession of more than 8 grams of concentrated cannabis products, including hashish, cannabis oils, extracts, wax, dabs, etc can be a felony offense and can bring jail time if you are found guilty of the charges. Hashish possession in California can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, or a felony, depending.

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