Although the sale and consumption of recreational marijuana has been legalized in California, there are strict regulations and the sale of marijuana to minors still carries stiff consequences.
In November of 2016, Proposition 64 was placed on the ballot and voters voted for the recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 and over. This initiative allowed for the cultivation and consumption of marijuana for personal use. In January of 2018, the recreational sale and taxation of marijuana for public recreational use in the state went into effect although it is still illegal on the federal level, and still illegal to consume it in public.
Some of the restriction the State of California has placed on the sale of marijuana are:
- Purchase by those 21 years of age or older
- 1 ounce Limit per person, per day
- 8 ounce limit of cannabis edibles per person, per day
- Must be purchased at a state-licensed dispensary
- Must provide valid, legal ID to purchase
Health and Safety Code § 11361 outlines the restrictions on the sale and distribution of marijuana to minors and the sale of marijuana to minors is a felony offense with penalties including prison time. It is even possible to be prosecuted for offering to sell marijuana to a minor.
Severe penalties are imposed on anyone who is convicted of using a minor 14 years of age and younger to sell or transport marijuana and those who encourage a minor to consume marijuana. Depending on the age of the minor and the criminal record of the individual accused of this felony, a sentence of 3 to 7 years in prison can be imposed.
Although the law is very clear on the use of marijuana by minors, a minor may consume medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription and a parent’s permission for an existing condition. Proof must be established with the court and the minor who is given permission to use marijuana for a medical condition cannot purchase the marijuana from just anyone, and anyone who seels to that minor is still subject to the penalties of the law. Anyone other than a state-licensed dispensary who sells medical marijuana to a minor is guilty of a felony.
There might be a defense against charges of violations of the Health and Safety Code § 11361 HSC. Each case is unique to the individual, their criminal history and the circumstances of the situation which led to their charge, however, the following reasons carry the possibility of a defense:
- You were the victim of police entrapment and were aggressively targeted and coerced to sell to a minor or utilize a minor in the transport or sale of marijuana
- You believed the person was an adult (There may be a situation where they may have shown a fake ID or they appeared much older than a minor. Although you might be found guilty on lesser charges, it will not fully absolve you from responsibility)
- You did not actually sell marijuana to a minor
- You had no knowledge a substance was marijuana
It is important to note that even offering a minor marijuana is a felony in the State of California and, in fact, all violations of the Health and Safety Code 11361 are felonies. Under federal law, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 substance which means there is a high risk for abuse. Heroin, LSD, and ecstasy are also listed as Schedule 1 controlled substances.
Any violation of HSC § 11361 which results in a conviction is not served in a county jail but in a California State prison. There is the possibility of felony probation, however, that would depend on several factors which are unique to an individual case and only an attorney can advise you, knowing all the facts of the situation and the severity of the charges.
If you do receive felony probation, the duration is usually between three and five years, one of the years spent in a county jail. You will also be ordered to stay away from all minors during this time and can be subjected to drug counseling. You will be subject to parole officer visits and restrictions and if there are any violations of the stipulations of your probation during the duration, you can be ordered to finish your probation in state prison.
You can be deported if you are not a U.S. Citizen and you are found guilty of selling to a minor or have utilized them to distribute or carry marijuana or encouraged a minor to consume marijuana. Anyone charged with a felony of HSC § 11361 should contact an attorney to advise them of the possible results of this charge.