In California, state law allows you to grow a small amount of marijuana for personal use. However, there is a hard limit of six plants per person. If you are accused of growing more than this, you can be arrested and convicted for marijuana cultivation.
Don’t allow an arrest to ruin your life. A marijuana cultivation defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you fight the charge. At the Simmrin Law Group, we have the experience and knowledge to win this kind of case.
Why Is Growing Marijuana Still Illegal in Los Angeles?
California’s marijuana laws have changed a lot – and become complicated. Previously, growing any amount of marijuana was a criminal offense under a law known as HS 11358.
Then in November 2016, the voters of California passed Proposition 64, legalizing marijuana for personal recreational use. Proposition 64 also amended the old HS 11358 so that individuals could grow small amounts of marijuana.
Under the new law, growing marijuana is legal if:
- You are at least 21 years of age
- You grow more than six plants
- You grow plants for purely personal use
If you grow more than six plants, or if you grow and sell it/give it away without a license, it remains illegal.
New laws in California have to make exceptions for California’s long-standing medical marijuana rules. Under those rules, anyone with a valid medical marijuana card may grow:
- Up to six mature marijuana plants
- Up to 12 immature plants
- A larger amount with a doctor’s recommendation
Confused? You’re not alone. People routinely fall afoul of California’s marijuana cultivation laws – even if they thought what they were doing was legal. Marijuana cultivation defense lawyers in Los Angeles from the Simmrin Law Group can explain the laws that apply to your situation.
For a free legal consultation with a Criminal Defense lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (310) 928-9347
Is It True That Marijuana Cultivation Can Be a Felony in Los Angeles?
Yes, but it depends on the circumstances. Most cases are misdemeanors. You will only be charged with the felony version of marijuana cultivation in Los Angeles if one of these factors applies to you:
- You have two or more prior convictions for marijuana cultivation,
- Your cultivation broke certain environmental laws (such as growing in a protected nature area),
- You have a past conviction for a violent felony, or
- You are a registered sex offender.
If any of these apply to your case, you should expect a felony proceeding which is much more serious. However, even the less serious misdemeanor version of marijuana cultivation carries jail time.
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What Are the Penalties for Marijuana Cultivation in California?
Marijuana cultivation in California carries the possibility of serious jail time, even for a first offense. With no previous criminal record, you still face severe consequences.
The penalties for the misdemeanor version include:
- Up to six months in county jail
- A fine of up to $500
The felony penalties include:
- Either 16 months, two years, or three years in county jail
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Convicted felon status
A felony conviction will likely affect your ability to get a job and carries a lifelong ban on owning firearms.
Penalties for Minors
Minors in California are not legally allowed to possess or grow any amount of marijuana. When someone under age 18 is arrested for marijuana cultivation, the offense is only an infraction. This charge is less severe than a misdemeanor.
A first offense may result in:
- Eight hours of drug counseling
- 40 hours of community service
Subsequent offenses for underage marijuana cultivators may result in:
- 10 hours of drug counseling
- 60 hours of community service
If you are between the ages of 18 and 21, your charge will be an infraction, not a misdemeanor. You will face a fine of up to $100.
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How Can You Stay Out of Jail?
California does offer an alternative to jail for many marijuana cultivation offenders. This is through a drug diversion program that tries to keep nonviolent drug offenders out of jail. You may be eligible for drug diversion if:
- This is your first or second offense for cultivation
- You are a nonviolent offender (did not assault an officer during arrest, etc.)
- Your grow was only for personal use, not for sale
Under those circumstances, you may qualify to have jail time deferred and attend drug treatment instead. If you complete treatment successfully, you will still serve out the rest of your probation but your jail time will be waived.
The only downside of drug diversion is that you have to plead guilty to receive it. This is better than jail, but it still leaves a conviction on your record. In many cases, it’s better to fight the charge. You do not have to face any jail time – or other penalties – if a Los Angeles marijuana cultivation defense attorney helps you win your case.
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Is It Possible to Beat a Marijuana Cultivation Charge?
Absolutely. In fact, these cases are often based on weak evidence or show signs of a potentially illegal search by police. If our team of Los Angeles marijuana cultivation defense lawyers can get even some of the evidence thrown out by the judge, it could mean getting your charge reduced—or even winning your case outright.
Some of the possible defenses for marijuana cultivation charges include:
- The marijuana was not yours: (You did not plant it, or the area it was in is co-owned with other people.)
- You didn’t know it was there.
- You didn’t know what it was: Marijuana can grow wild even in someone’s garden without their knowledge, or other people could drop off potted plants without explaining what they are.
- You need the marijuana for medical reasons – and a doctor recommended that you need more than the six mature plants allowed by law. (Or, you need to grow more in order to harvest enough actual marijuana for your condition, because of local soil/growing conditions.)
- There isn’t enough evidence – or there are legal problems with the evidence against you and it can be suppressed (thrown out).
- Illegal search and seizure: Officers must follow very strict laws in conducting searches. If they broke these laws, the evidence they turned up may be inadmissible.
Depending on your case, one of these defenses could be enough to win in court or get the prosecutor to simply drop the charges. However, the law is complex, and simply claiming one of these defenses isn’t enough to win. You should discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney.
Talk to a Los Angeles Marijuana Cultivation Lawyer for Free
One conviction for marijuana cultivation can follow you for years. You need to fight it. Let the Los Angeles marijuana cultivation defense attorneys from Simmrin Law Group give you a free case review and explain your rights.
Fill out our online form or call us 24/7 and schedule your free consultation today. No matter what the circumstances surrounding your arrest, we’re here for you. We will listen to you and we will take your side – and fight for you.