Drug possession laws have changed dramatically in California in recent years. That said, the state still has penalties for having certain types and amounts of drugs, as well as the purpose for which a person had that particular substance.
For those unfamiliar with California’s drug laws, Proposition 47, passed in 2014, classified possession of certain controlled substances (opiates, cocaine base, mescaline, peyote, hallucinogens) as misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in a county jail (not state prison).
Marijuana Regulations in 2018
In addition to medical marijuana laws and regulations, the state in 2016 passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. This decriminalized recreational marijuana, allowing adults age 21 and over to purchase, possess, and consume up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana within a private residence or an establishment licensed for such consumption.
The 2016 law also permits people to grow up to six marijuana plants within a private home, provided that the area is locked and not visible publicly.
California laws also specify the following punishment for drug violations:
- Possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana is punishable by incarceration of up to six months, a fine of up to $500, or both.
- Possession of more than 8 grams of concentrated marijuana is punishable by incarceration of up to one year, a fine of up to $500, or both.
- Anyone age 21 and younger in possession of marijuana can face an infraction punishable by a mandatory drug education course and community service.
Smoking marijuana remains illegal in public places, anywhere smoking tobacco is prohibited, and while driving a vehicle. Possession also remains illegal on the grounds of a school, day care, or youth center while children are present.
What’s more, prosecutors can charge someone with “possession for sale” or “purchase for the purpose of sale” if authorities believe that the person intended to engage in drug dealing.
3 Common Mistakes When Facing Drug Charges
It’s understandable that some people might be confused when facing a drug charge. This can lead to some common mistakes that can affect a specific case and possibly the legal outcome.
Making an Unnecessary Admission of Guilt
People facing any kind of criminal charge react in different ways. Some might be angry; others might panic or become frightened. Many just want to make their situation go more smoothly. We recommend being cooperative with and respectful of the police, but providing excessive details in conversation, especially if you’re nervous, might not be advantageous in the long run. Under the law, a person who is arrested does not have to say anything, especially something that might be self-incriminating. Instead, you can politely ask for a lawyer to assist you.
Plea Bargain Assumptions
Other people are under the mistaken assumption that a plea bargain will result in minimal consequences for a first offense. If you’re not familiar with the court system, it’s important to recognize that this might not be the right option for your particular circumstances. Again, consulting with a criminal defense attorney who knows California drug possession laws and the legal system is your best bet.
Social Media Representation
Lastly, we might not think about this often, but how we represent ourselves on social media can impact a legal case. For example, if you use marijuana recreationally, it might not be wise to boast or make your usage sound broader than it is.