Cultivating Marijuana in California
Cultivating any amount of marijuana in California is a felony offense. If you are caught growing marijuana, you could be punished up to three years in jail or state prison depending on circumstances and past court history.
Penalty for First Offense
For a first offense of marijuana cultivation in California, you may be eligible for drug treatment in lieu of jail time if you are a non-violent offender (first or second time offender) and if the charges against you are limited to cultivation for personal use or possession. Participants entering California’s Deferred Entry of Judgment Drug Diversion-Penal Code 1000 PC must attend support groups and complete 20 continuous weeks of substance abuse education, relapse prevention and health and wellness courses. It is also mandatory for participants to attend one or more support group meetings each week to help build their support network and maintain a healthier lifestyle.
Who Can Grow Marijuana Legally in California?
Medical marijuana users and their primary caregivers can cultivate marijuana legally in California. A physician must first approve a patient for marijuana use and also verify they have one or more of the following conditions:
· Multiple Sclerosis
· Any disorder or disease deemed debilitating (conditions causing chronic nausea and/or pain)
Although medical marijuana users and their primary caregivers are not required to carry a medical marijuana ID card, it is useful to carry an MMID to prevent being falsely arrested for cultivating marijuana.
To find out more about California’s medical marijuana program and how to obtain an MMID, visit California’s Department of Public Health website.
How Much are Medical Marijuana Users or Caregivers Allowed to Cultivate Legally in California?
You are permitted to have no more than six mature marijuana plants or 12 immature marijuana plants growing at one time. Individual localities are allowed to enact higher limits. However, if a physician thinks you may need more marijuana to address your needs, they can recommend that you be allowed to cultivate more than six mature or 12 immature marijuana plants at one time.
What Constitutes a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in California?
Medical marijuana dispensaries operating in California can legally cultivate marijuana for the purpose of dispensing it to medical marijuana users or their caregivers.
Under California law, primary caregivers and medical marijuana users may “associate in California to cooperatively or collectively cultivate marijuana for medical purposes”. The Guidelines for the Security and Non-Diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use also states that “any group…distributing and cultivating marijuana for medical purposes should be organized and operated in a way that ensures the security of the crop and safeguards against diversion for non-medical purposes”.
Learn more about legally operating a marijuana dispensary in California here.
Are Sonoma County Marijuana Cultivation Laws Different from California State Laws?
Sonoma County guidelines regarding marijuana cultivation are essentially the same as state laws. However, qualified medical marijuana users or their primary caregivers can grow up to 30 plants in a 100 square foot canopy per patient in Sonoma County.
New Medical Marijuana Laws in California Starting January 1, 2016
If counties and cities fail to enact medical marijuana ordinances by March 1, 2016, laws regarding the use and cultivation of marijuana will be subject to California state law only. This means that medical marijuana patients will be allowed cultivate plants in a 100 square foot area (for themselves only) while caregivers will be allowed 500 square feet for growing plants for one to five patients.
Can a Charge of Illegal Cultivation be Defended Successfully in Court?
If you are caught growing marijuana illegally in California, your lawyer may use the following defense tactics to get your drug charge dismissed or reduced:
· Plants belonged to somebody else
· You did not know there were marijuana plants being cultivated in your place of residence
· You didn’t know the plants were marijuana plants
· Plants were found during an illegal search
·Depending on circumstances surrounding the charge of cultivation, an experienced attorney could get charges dismissed or reduced to a charge of simple possession of marijuana.
Contact Amy Chapman
If you have been charged with cultivating, possession or any other marijuana related offense, you need an experienced lawyer behind you. Call me at (707) 636-3207 or fill out the form to the right for a Free Consultation. I will get results!