It’s An Ounce That Counts (Marijuana Possession In California)

It’s An Ounce That Counts (Marijuana Possession In California)

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Mere possession of marijuana is not a crime. Having no more than 28.5 grams (1.00530 ounces) of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, is not a criminal act. It’s an infraction with a maximum fine of $100.[1]  Back in the day, possessing less than an ounce landed you zero jail time and $100 at most from your pocket, but you could still be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. You had the possibility to have the judge dismiss your charges upon successful completion of a drug diversion program but since California is dead broke, lawmakers decided just to take the money than spend resources prosecuting cases.  Heaven forbid you exercised your right to a trial by jury. To put this information into perspective, possessing the narcotic is closer to disobeying a traffic regulation. Well actually, it’s also a vehicle code violation listed as an infraction.[2]

Are your emotions puffing with excitement? I don’t mean to bring you back down to Earth but there are still situations when you can face imprisonment. Possessing any amount on school grounds during school hours or school-related activities can place you behind bars and deduct $500 from your wallet or purse.[3]  Don’t stress too much because this provision only applies from kindergarten to the 12th grade, clearly one of the benefits to getting a college education. In other words, don’t bring a joint to your daughter’s recital thinking at worst you have money to blow.

Furthermore, doing any other thing with marijuana besides using it for legal medical purposes is pretty much a crime. [4]  Smoking, cultivating, selling, giving away, hiring children to transport marijuana are a few ways that can lock you up regardless how much cannabis may be involved. So if you don’t want to be in deep trouble, keep it to yourself!…as long as it’s less than an ounce and away from schools.

If you’re seeking legal advice, feel free to contact me here at the Law Offices of Mark A. Gallagher: (800) 797-8406 or email me:

[1] California Health & Safety Code Section 11357(b).

[2] California Vehicle Code Section 23222(b). Be aware if you’re driving while carrying less than an ounce, you can have a point added to your driving record which will increase the premium to your insurance. Also see CVC 13202.5 allowing the court to suspend or delay your driver license for one year if you’ve been convicted of possession and you are between 13 and 21 years old.

[3] California Health & Safety Code Section 11357(d) ; California Health & Safety Code Section 11357(e).

[4] See California Health & Safety Code Section 11362.5 for medical marijuana.

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