Possession of Marijuana:
As of January 1, 2011 possession of marijuana (one ounce -28.5 grams or less) is an infraction, punishable by up to a $100 fine (plus fees), with no criminal record. Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first time offense. Subsequent convictions may cause the severity of the sentence to increase, accordingly. A second conviction carries with it a 15-day mandatory minimum sentence.
Distribution of a small amount of marijuana may be treated as possession, depending on the circumstances. Manufacturing or distribution of less than 50 plants (or 50 kilograms) of marijuana carries with it a sentence of 5 years in prison. If the plants number from 50-99, the penalty increases to a maximum of 20 years in prison. For 100-999 plants (or 100-999 kilograms) the penalty is 5-40 years in prison. Lastly, for 1000 plants (or 1000 kilograms) or more, the penalty is 10 years – life in prison.
It is important to note that distribution of more than 5 grams of marijuana to a minor (under 21), doubles the possible penalties. Also, distribution within 1000 feet of a school, playground, public housing or within 100 feet of a youth center, public pool or video arcade doubles the penalties.
Under Prop. 36, first (and second)-time offenders (only) may demand a treatment program instead of jail. Their conviction is erased upon successful completion of the program. Possession (and personal use cultivation) offenders can also avoid conviction by making use of PC 1000, in which case their charges are dismissed upon successful completion of a diversion program.
Possession with Intent to Sell:
Any amount is a felony under H&S 11359. Items that may lead police to charge a defendant with “intent” are: scales, cash, or multiple packages (baggies). A qualified defense attorney will try to reduce an intent charge to a simple possession charge.