Although recent legalization efforts have not been successful, California remains one of the more marijuana-friendly states in the country through decriminalization efforts. However, many marijuana offenses remain serious crimes and can result in severe penalties if you are convicted.
The consequences discussed below are all for simple possession drug crimes. However, additional penalties may be assessed if the prosecution can prove that you had an intent to sell. Additionally, none of the penalties will apply if the possessor has a valid medical marijuana prescription, as there are different restrictions for medical patients.
Possession of Under One Ounce
Simple possession of less than one ounce of marijuana (28.5 grams or less, to be exact) is actually a non-criminal infraction, similar to a parking violation. As a non-criminal offense, this level of possession does not entitle you to a trial by jury or a public defender. However, you will not be subject to any jail time, and you can choose to fight the infraction in a trial before a judge.
More Than An Ounce, or in a School Zone
This is where things start to get sticky (no pun intended). If you’re caught in possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, the crime will be a misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 6 months in prison, as well as a $500 fine. That’s right – a difference of just half a gram can be the difference between a slap on the wrist and six months in jail.
If you possess less than 28.5 grams of weed, but you are in a school zone, you will face misdemeanor charges. The maximum jail time is 10 days and carries a fine of $500. For minors under 18, a first-time conviction will carry jail time and a smaller fine, but subsequent convictions will have comparable penalties to an adult charge.
Concentrates (Hash, Wax, Oil, Shatter)
The information above all refers to the actual flower buds of marijuana, but the drug is now available in a number of different concentrated forms. Possession of any amount of concentrated marijuana is illegal and is at minimum a misdemeanor charge. This crime is known as a “wobbler,” because prosecutors can choose to charge individuals with either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor crime, you may spend up to a year in jail, and pay a $500 fine. As a felony, however, you will be jailed for a minimum of 16 months, and up to three years.