California Possession Laws

small bag of marijuana flower

To think 20 years ago possessing marijuana would condemn you to a life of eternal damnation. Now with medical marijuana card can use cannabis products without the consequence of judgmental opinions. That being said, before you go out trying to recreate a scene from a Snoop Dogg music video, knowing how California possession laws will keep you out of arms reach of the man.

Defining Marijuana Possession

Legal terms can be quite ambiguous, so when talking about the legality of marijuana, defining what is considered to be marijuana is a good place to start. California marijuana law states that marijuana is defined as follows:

“All parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or its resin. It does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination.”

How Much Marijuana Can I Have on Me?

Prop 215 states you are able to possess as much as necessary for your personal medical use. So depending on why you have your medical marijuana card, you could have quite a bit.

As of January 1, 2004, the bill SB 420 was passed. This was passed as a compromise between medical marijuana consumers and law enforcement. The guidelines took in effect statewide and stated that each medical marijuana cardholder can only possess 6 mature or 12 immature plants and 8 ounces of processed marijuana.

The great thing about American politics is each county’s ability to determine their own ordinances.

For example, in Sonoma County, you can possess up to 3 lbs. of dried cannabis as well as 30 plants within a 100 sq. ft area. So be sure to check your local county’s ordinances.

Fun Fact: marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, and you are not protected by any state laws if caught possessing any form or amount of marijuana in any federally protected parks or forest land in California. So be careful driving through federal land or enjoying cannabis on your camping trips!

What If I Don’t Have My Medical Marijuana Card?

Chances are if you’re reading this, you have used marijuana legally or illegally. Everyone knows. Nobody cares. But since the decriminalization of cannabis in the state of California, the time for the crime of having small amounts has drastically decreased. If you are in possession of an ounce or less is only a misdemeanor and a maximum fine of $100 and no criminal record.

Depending on the area of Cali, you could get slapped with some fees specific to the infringement up to about $485. In summary, you will probably pay more for a speeding ticket than having a 1/8th in your pocket.

Fun Fact: Police can get around the misdemeanor if they can provide evidence of intent to sell. So if they find scales, cash, multiple packages, and materials, pay-owe sheets, pagers, etc…you want to call some legal counsel.

As you can tell, there is a lot of conflicting answers to what seems like a simple question. Generally speaking, since the use of cannabis is only legal at a state level, it is probably a good rule to follow the possession amounts as disclosed in the SB420 bill. The less uncertainty is always the better choice.