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What does Proposition 64 mean for me?

On November 8, 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana by adults over 21.


Proposition 64 legalized the recreational use of marijuana by adults. Adults over the age of 21 can now possess up to an ounce of marijuana and up to six plants in their homes. Other marijuana-related offenses have reduced penalties. For instance, possession of marijuana for sale is now a misdemeanor, rather than a mandatory felony resulting in up to two years of prison.
Additionally, law enforcement can no longer use the smell of marijuana or the presence of paraphernalia as probable cause to justify broader searches. That means law enforcement cannot search your home merely based on the smell of marijuana.

Proposition 64 would eliminate marijuana-related jail time and fines for defendants under 18 years old, replacing those penalties with community service and drug education courses.

Does that mean all marijuana is legal?

No, there are many things that are still illegal. Adults may only possess up to an ounce of marijuana or six plants. Smoking marijuana in public is still illegal, as is driving under the influence of marijuana. No one under 21 can smoke marijuana, and businesses selling marijuana will be required to check IDs. There are strict limits on where marijuana shops can be located, and there are strict regulations on the advertising of marijuana. Local governments can ban commercial sales altogether, but not the personal cultivation of six plants.

Businesses must get licensed before they can sell recreational marijuana, which they cannot do until January 2018. Additionally, businesses that sell alcohol and tobacco products cannot sell marijuana.

Can I just drive to another state to buy marijuana?

Californians cannot drive to another state where recreational use is legal and bring marijuana back to California, as it remains a federal crime to transport marijuana across state lines. For example, although recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado and California, it is illegal to buy marijuana in Colorado and drive it back to California. Until California businesses can begin selling marijuana, recreational users will have to cultivate their own plants.

What if I was already convicted of a marijuana-related offense?

Individuals with prior marijuana convictions can petition the courts to revisit their cases if the conduct they were convicted of would be legal under the new law. Their cases can be dismissed and sealed or reduced to a misdemeanor. For instance, someone with a conviction for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana could now have their record cleared. Individuals currently incarcerated for marijuana related offenses can petition the court for resentencing under the new law.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, more than 6,000 individuals in custody could potentially have their sentences shortened and another one million could petition to have their records changed or cleared. This can help individuals find jobs and obtain housing.

Defendants with pending cases should move to have their cases dismissed or reduced, if the court or prosecuting agency does not do so automatically.

Do I need a criminal defense lawyer?

The experienced attorneys at Moaddel Law Firm can help you with any marijuana-related case. If you are currently facing charges, our attorneys can help you get those charges dismissed or reduced if the offense is affected by the new law. If you are currently in custody, we can assist you with reducing your sentence. If you previously were convicted in a marijuana related case, we can assist you with clearing or reducing your record.