In 2009, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation reducing the punishment for the possession of not more than one ounce of marijuana. Effective Jan. 1, 2011, the possession of not more than one ounce of marijuana is an infraction.
The punishment for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana can be found in California Health and Safety Code § 11357(b). Health and Safety Code 11357(b) says:
- Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100).
Also, if you drive a motor vehicle and you are in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana you can be charged under Vehicle Code § 23222. Possessing one ounce or less of marijuana while driving a motor vehicle is also an infraction and punishable by a fine of not more than $100.
No arrest, incarceration or imprisonment can be imposed for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and no other terms or conditions can be imposed other than as required by statute.
If you possess more than one ounce of marijuana, (other than concentrated cannabis), you can be charged with a misdemeanor. Possession of more than one ounce of marijuana is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months or by a fine of not more than $500, or by both such fine and imprisonment. California Health and Safety Code § 11357(c).
If you have been convicted under Health and Safety Code § 11357(b) or Health and Safety Code § 11357(c) the record of your conviction will be destroyed after two years as provided for in Health and Safety Code § 11361.5 and Health and Safety Code § 11361.7.
Under California law, if your marijuana conviction is for personal use, including cultivation for personal use, you may be eligible for a diversion program. Diversion is some times referred to as deferred entry of judgment. If granted a diversion program no incarceration can be imposed as a condition of diversion or probation. The diversion program in California is outlined in California Penal Code § 1000.
Upon successful completion of a deferred entry of judgment program, the arrest upon which the judgment was deferred shall be deemed to have never occurred. There are some limitations to the non-disclosure requirement of an arrest or conviction after successful completion of a diversion program. The exceptions can be found in California Penal Code § 1000.4.
You can not drive a motor vehicle if you are under the influence of marijuana regardless of whether you use medical marijuana, (Prop 215), as outlined in Health and Safety Code § 11362.5. If you are under the influence of marijuana and you are caught driving a motor vehicle, you can be charged under California Vehicle Code § 23152(a). Whether you are under the influence of marijuana is a question of fact to be decided by a jury.
If you are under 21 and you are convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana your drivers license will be suspended for one year. If you get a drug related conviction and you do not already have your drivers license you will be prohibited from obtaining your license for one year. This is true even if you were not driving a vehicle at the time of arrest.
Under California Health and Safety Code § 11364 it is not illegal to own or possess marijuana paraphernalia.