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Recreational Marijuana Laws in California: Legalities & Restrictions


Thousands of Californians lined up on the night of New Year’s Eve to make their first legal purchases of recreational marijuana sold by state-licensed dispensaries. January 1st, 2018 marked the date that newly passed legislation allowed people to buy marijuana and cannabis products without needing to commit a state-level drug crime. However, if you are one of the many people excited for the marijuana law changes in California, you should know that there are still plenty of restrictions and even more penalties if you violate them.

An overview of the legalized recreational marijuana laws in California:

  • You may possess up to one (1) ounce of marijuana or marijuana-based products for personal, recreational use.
  • Possessing more than one ounce of recreational marijuana is a misdemeanor capable of being penalized by up to six months of imprisonment upon a first-time conviction.
  • You do not need a medical marijuana prescription to purchase recreational marijuana.
  • Only state-approved dispensaries can legally sell marijuana products.
  • You must be at least 21 years old to purchase recreational marijuana.
  • You can share up to one ounce of recreational marijuana with anyone old enough to possess it legally.
  • You can legally cultivate or grow up to six marijuana plants on your property.
  • You can legally possess up to eight (8) grams of a hash product or similar concentrate.
  • Recreational marijuana of any amount with the intent to distribute or sell it is strictly illegal and can be penalized with up to six months in prison upon conviction.
  • Driving while under the influence of marijuana or any other drug may constitute a DUI crime. If charged, the prosecution must prove you were impaired by the drug while driving.

It is also worth noting that possessing any amount of recreational marijuana is still a violation of federal law, as set forth by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Attorney General Jeff Sessions of the Trump Administration recently announced the repeal of Obama-era legislation that shielded people from federal investigations of drug-related actions only considered illegal at a federal-level. Given this removal of federal protections, you could still be charged, tried, and prosecuted by a federal agency for using recreational marijuana in California.

Trusted Drug Crimes Attorney in Santa Rosa

Have you been charged for a marijuana crime in California despite the changes to the state’s legislation? The Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. and our Santa Rosa criminal defense attorney can stand up for your rights and help you pursue the best possible outcome for your case. You can also talk to us about the reduction or expungement of previous marijuana crime convictions on your record.

Call (707) 418-5352 or contact our law firmtoday to begin your case.