Home Wellness Travel Is it legal to grow cannabis in California? 

Is it legal to grow cannabis in California? 

Cannabis Joint
Photo by Shelby Ireland

The role of California in reshaping the cannabis industry cannot be undermined as it is one of the pioneers of the cannabis legalization movement. The golden state’s influence on this subject dates back to the 5th of November 1996, when the usage of medical cannabis was legalized. This legalization was effected by the promulgation of the Compassionate Usage Act of 1996 which is usually termed proposition 215. It should be noted that the legalization of medical cannabis was effected despite the lack of approval by the FDA on its safety and potency.  

California’s enactment of this act made it the first state to legalize medical cannabis in the United States and since the enactment, a good number of states have followed suit. Also about 6 years ago, the recreational consumption, cultivation, and possession of cannabis were legalized by the Adult Use Marijuana Act of 2016.

In this article, we shall explain the marijuana laws of California particularly as it relates to cultivation. In addition to this, we shall briefly examine the laws regulating consumption. Possession and distribution.  Read on to find out the legal stance on cultivating cannabis seeds in California.

Photo by Clarisse Meyer

Understanding Californian laws on cannabis cultivation 

California Marijuana laws on age and the maximum number of plants to be grown 

Under Proposition 64, adults who are 21 years of age or older are permitted to grow up to 6 plants per household. This implies that even if there are 3 adults living in a house, the number of cannabis plants cultivated must not exceed six. It should be noted that this six plants rule applies to the cultivation of cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes. 

However, an exception to this exists for medical patients. How this works is that a medical patient proves to the court, that their condition requires a higher dosage of cannabis thus requiring them to plant a number of plants that exceed the state’s limit. In such proceedings, the patient has to tender a document showing a certified doctor’s approval of that amount of cannabis for the treatment of their ailment. 

What is illegal cultivation? 

In the golden state, the code that defines what constitutes illegal cultivation is the Health and safety code. Under this code, illegal cultivation was defined as the growing of cannabis by individuals who are between the ages of 18-20. Therefore, in this terrain, cultivation of cannabis by individuals who are below the legal age is an infraction of the law which attracts a fine payment of $100. 

What are the categories of illegal cultivation?

In the state of California, growing more than 6 plants by an individual who is 21 years or older is considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in prison or a $500 fine. In some cases, the presiding judge may order the imposition of both sanctions on the offender.  

In addition, for an act of illegal cultivation to become a felony, the offender must have secured 2 or more previous convictions for growing above the specified number of plants or being a registered sex offender. The punishment for this offense is a maximum prison sentence of 3 years and a fine payment of $10,000. 

Where can you grow your marijuana? 

In California, it is illegal for an individual to cultivate their cannabis in a place that is visible to the public. Hence, it is advised that individuals should grow their cannabis in a discreet place that is safely locked to prevent unauthorized entry. Although outdoor cultivation is illegal for growers, businesses can groom their cannabis outdoors if they obtain an outdoor license from the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). 

Photo by Elsa Olofsson

Californian laws on cannabis consumption

As of now, public cultivation of cannabis is illegal and considered an infraction in the state of California. Hence, any individual who defies this rule by smoking in parks, bars, federal lands, and sidewalks may be slapped with a fine of $100.

Under the Marijuana Health and Safety Code, the only approved place for cannabis consumption is the user’s private residence. Individuals who occupy rented apartments have to seek the consent of their landlords before they commence smoking. And this is because state laws empower landlords to either permit or prohibit the consumption of cannabis on their premises. 

Also, it is imperative to note that consuming cannabis within 1000ft of a daycare, youth center or school attracts a fine of $250. Additionally, driving under the influence of marijuana is a criminal offense that is punishable with a maximum fine of $5000 and a prison sentence of 16 years.

According to Herbies, the sanctions to be imposed on defaulting individuals by the judge differs as several factors are taken into consideration. The factors usually used to determine the severity of the sanction include the regularity of the offense, the nature of the offense, and the criminal category of the offense. 

The Golden state’s laws regarding possession, purchase, and distribution

In California, it is illegal to possess more than 28.5 grams of cannabis and 8 ounces of cannabis concentrates. The reason for the huge variation between the amount of cannabis and cannabis concentrates allowed is because of the latter’s high THC content.

Possessing more than the specified amount of cannabis or cannabis concentrates is punishable by a prison sentence of six months and/or a fine of $500. Also in California, an individual cannot purchase more than 28.5 grams of cannabis or 8 grams of cannabis concentrates in a day. 

Furthermore, possessing marijuana with the intent to sell it attracts the same sanction as possessing more than the specified amount. Just like in other climes possessing marijuana by a person who is 21 years or older within school grounds attracts a maximum of 10 years. 

If the offender is 18 years or younger, a fine of $250 is usually imposed on the first commission. On the second commission, a $500 fine is imposed and a court order mandating commitment to a detention center for 10 days. 

Wrapping up

Although the laws covering marijuana cultivation in California are pretty straightforward, growers should ensure that they make sufficient research into the laws of their municipalities. The reason for this is that despite the existence of unified state law, districts in CA still have the liberty to make their laws.

Hence, it is in the best interest of a grower or prospective one to master the slight modifications, which may exist between state laws and their district’s ordinances.