Here Are the Facts About Marijuana Laws in Los Angeles and California

The Laws Governing Medicinal and Recreational Cannabis Use

Facts on Los Angeles and California's Marijuana Pot Cannabis Hemp Laws
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Federally, marijuana is still classed as a hard drug. But California has decriminalized it and made medical marijuana legal with Proposition 215 in 1996. Here are some of today's key underpinnings of cannabis use, possession and cultivation in Los Angeles and the state of California.

Marijuana Laws in Los Angeles: The Facts

  • Possession of 28.5 grams or less of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor for which one may be fined $100.
  • A gift of 28.5 grams or less of marijuana similarly results in a $100 fine.
  • Possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana is still a misdemeanor. However, arrest for this may result in six months of jail time.
  • Cultivation of any amount of marijuana is a felony. If apprehended, the individual or group that performs the cultivation may be ordered to serve 16–36 months in jail.
  • Sale of marijuana (in any amount) is a felony and can result in two to four years of prison.
  • California has decriminalized marijuana.

What Does 'Decriminalized' Mean?

Usually this means that a first-time marijuana possession offense does not carry any prison time or result in a criminal record (if small amounts of the drug for personal consumption is involved).

California has an active hemp industry, which is authorized to conduct hemp-related research.

How Does Hemp Differ From Marijuana That's Smoked or Eaten?

Hemp is a variety of the plant species cannabis saliva L., which contains less than 1 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. It is, therefore, not ingested for any psychedelic effects but used as an ingredient or component of certain products.

Historically, hemp has been used as a component in the construction of rope, paper, paint, clothing and textiles. It is not uncommon these days to find it in cosmetics, food products such as hemp milk, animal feed and plastics.

How Did Medical Marijuana Became Legal in Los Angeles and California?

On the federal level, marijuana is still classified in a category of hard drugs alongside LSD and heroine; it has not been decriminalized. Even so, some states have legalized its use for medical purposes. When California's Proposition 215 passed in 1996, the state became one of a little more than a dozen states to make medical marijuana legal. 

Proposition 215: The Facts

  • Author: Dennis Peron, a veteran San Francisco-based medical cannabis activist and businessman wrote it with his associates, who included a psychiatrist and a nurse
  • Date passed: November 5, 1996
  • Percent of voters who approval it: 58%
  • Summary: Prop 215, as it's known, allows individuals with a valid doctor’s recommendation (not to be confused with a formal prescription) to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use.
  • Amendment: The initiative has been expanded to protect the system of collective and cooperative distribution (Section 11362.5). Under the added sections, physicians are safe from being prosecuted for recommending marijuana to their patients.