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Marijuana Possession: Infraction or Misdemeanor?

Posted by Christopher Martens | Jul 02, 2015 | 0 Comments

Marijuana possession is a common charge in California and other states where thriving medical industries increase the availability and ease of access for all users. Marijuana is quickly becoming decriminalized in several states, California included, however there are still many laws surrounding its use. Today, simple possession of marijuana has been reduced to the level of an infraction in California. Those over 18 years of age possessing less than 28.5 grams of marijuana plant, not concentrate, are liable for an infraction and up to a $100 fine. This is neither a misdemeanor nor felony criminal charge, as it has been in the past. However, those under 18 will face a misdemeanor charge with up to ten days in jail and a fine of up to $250 for possession of the same amount. Simple possession of marijuana paraphilia that indicate personal use only, such as a pipe or bong, carries with it no penalties at all. If the paraphilia has marijuana in it, however, you may be charged according to possession laws. Since synthetic and concentrated forms of marijuana are becoming more popular, the laws are adapting. Currently, those possessing one of these alternative forms of marijuana can be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500, or some combination of both. Starting in 2016, those who use or possess a synthetic cannabis substance will face just an infraction and a fine of up to $250. Changing legislature and increased open-mindedness regarding marijuana use in California have decriminalized simple possession of marijuana for personal use. However, there are several other factors that can complicate your case, potentially resulting in you being charged with a misdemeanor drug charge for marijuana possession. In the eyes of the law, personal use of marijuana has been greatly decriminalized however other forms of possession can still be heavily prosecuted. If the possession is on school grounds during operating hours, the charge is elevated to a misdemeanor, entailing a fine of up to $500 and up to 10 days in jail. If you posses over 28.5 grams of marijuana, not concentrate, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to six months in jail, a fine up to $500, or both. Driving under the influence of marijuana, as judged by a field sobriety test, can result in a misdemeanor charge of a drug DUI. The difference between all the different consequences of marijuana possession is really the degree of threat you pose to public safety. Simple possession of marijuana for personal use is now equated with a minor civil infraction, like a speeding ticket, while selling it brings with it harsh sentencing. Those who either sell or otherwise transfer marijuana to another person can be charged with a felony, facing two to four years in jail or prison. Those who are in possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or otherwise transfer to another person can also be charged with a felony and face 16 months to three years in jail or prison. These laws apply no matter the amount you are in possession of. Similarly, growing recreational marijuana or cultivating a concentrated form for personal use or unauthorized sale is charged as a felony as well, punishable with 16 months to up to three years in jail or prison. There are obviously many exceptions for medicinal marijuana patients with valid prescriptions although they face several guidelines and restrictions as well. These patients must be authorized by the state of California as a qualifying patient and must get a recommendation or prescription for marijuana from an authorized physician. At any given time, a patient cannot possess more than eight ounces of dried marijuana plant. As this is a sufficient supply for any one person to have at one time, possessing any more would suggest intent to sell. Marijuana laws in California are changing rapidly, having immediate repercussions for those with past marijuana charges and those facing them now. Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have or are facing misdemeanor or felony charges for marijuana possession, sale or cultivation. Law enforcement officers who catch people in possession of marijuana may make conclusions about the scenario that can mean the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. It is important you discuss a defense strategy with an experienced attorney if you are facing such charges.

Have you or a loved one been caught in possession of marijuana? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team. Experienced in marijuana and drug laws, our Visalia area legal team can help advise you on how to face the charges and walk away with the best possible outcome given the case facts. Call our offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.

About the Author

Christopher Martens

Bio Visalia and Bakersfield criminal defense attorney who has dedicated his life to helping those who have been accused of crimes or injured due to the negligence of others.


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