Attorney Matthew G. Kaestner

Long Beach's Criminal Law Specialist


On November 8, 2016, voters in California, by initiative, finally forced the government to give up much of the war on marijuana in California. Over 57% of voters approved proposition 64. These new laws legalize the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana for persons over the age of 21 in certain circumstances. Most of the former felony marijuana offenses have been reduced to misdemeanors or legalized. Persons with old convictions can apply to have their prior offenses reduced or dismissed and their records sealed.

Proposition 64 only dealt with the recreational use of marijuana for adults. The proposition didn’t effect previous law concerning the medical use of marijuana under the Compassionate Use Act and the Medical Marijuana Program. (Health and Safety Code sections 11362.5 and 11362.7-11362.9) (Read More.)

To follow is a review of the new laws regarding marijuana by Long Beach criminal lawyer, Matthew Kaestner. This page is dedicated only to the new laws now applicable to adults (meaning persons 21 years old and older). Some laws apply differently to persons 18-20 years old others differently to persons under 18.

What is now completely legal?

For adults, it is now legal to possess, purchase, transport (in a closed container), or give away (to another adult) up to one ounce of marijuana or up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis (except on K-12 school grounds during school hours).

Adults can smoke or ingest marijuana when not in any public place.

Adults can buy, give away, transport, or manufacture marijuana accessories.

Adults, in their private residence, may grow up 6 marijuana plants and keep the marijuana produced, in a space that is locked and not visible to the public. Local governments may enact regulations concerning cultivation and can even ban outdoor but not indoor growth of marijuana.

What is now only an infraction (punishable by a fine only)?

Growing fewer than 7 plants but (1) visible to the public or (2) not in a locked space.

Using marijuana in public.

Having an open container of marijuana in a vehicle.

Using marijuana while operating a vehicle or while a passenger in a vehicle.

What is no longer a felony, but only a misdemeanor (punishable by no more than 6 months in jail)?

After Proposition 64 it is now only a misdemeanor to:

Cultivate more than 6 plants.

Sell, or transport for sale, any marijuana. (Unless you have a “super strike,” are a registered sex offender, sell to persons under 18, have 2 or more priors, or if the event involves interstate activities, then a felony.)

Give away more than one ounce of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.

Possess for sale any amount of marijuana. (Unless you have a “super strike,” are a registered sex offender, have two or more priors, or employ persons under 21, then a felony.)

What is still a misdemeanor?

Driving under the influence of marijuana.

Possession of more than one ounce of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis (unless the product of one’s own cultivation and kept in one’s residence).

Taking marijuana onto K-12 school grounds during school hours.

What is still a felony regardless of prior record or involvement of minors?

1.) Manufacturing concentrated cannabis with a volatile solvent (typically using butane, acetone, or alcohol to make honey or Simpson oil);

2.) Maintaining a place for the purpose of selling, giving away or using marijuana.

3.) Maintaining a place for the purpose of storing or manufacturing marijuana.

In light of these changes, persons with old marijuana convictions for offenses that are now legal or have been reduced to misdemeanors or infractions can apply to the Court for a reduction. The court can also order the sealing of some convictions that are now a misdemeanor, infraction or completely legal. The reductions do not happen automatically and persons with prior marijuana convictions need to file a petition with the court.

Proposition 64's longest provisions have to do with taxation and retail sales of marijuana. Some 17pages of regulations will govern the manufacture, testing, licensing, sales and taxation of recreational marijuana to adults. New Division 10 (sections 26000-26210) was added to the California Business and Professions Code to “...establish a comprehensive system to control and regulate the cultivation, distribution, transport, storage, manufacturing, processing, and sale of nonmedical marijuana and marijuana products for adults 21 years of age and over.” The Labor Code (section 147.6), Water Code (section 13276) and Revenue and Taxation Code (Division 2, sections 34010-34021.5) were all amended or added to in order to effectuate the retail sales of marijuana.

Four government agencies will be charged with licensing, regulation, and supervision of the recreational marijuana industry. The Bureau of Marijuana Control will have the primary regulatory duties as well as the Department of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Consumer Affairs, and the Department of Public Health. Jurisdiction will likely overlap and a bureaucratic nightmare will likely face those persons seeking licenses to test, cultivate, manufacture and sell recreational marijuana. Licenses are set to begin being issued in January of 2018.

It is clear that penalties for virtually all sorts of recreational marijuana activity have been reduced or eliminated. However, legal pitfalls continue to exist for many marijuana related activities. If the police or a government agency has accused you or a loved one of violating the new marijuana laws in California or you would like to clean your record, your best bet is to call Long Beach criminal law specialist, attorney Matthew Kaestner. He can be contacted directly at 562-437-0200.