As of January 1, 2011, Senate Bill 1449 amends the California Health and Safety Code so that possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for non-medical purposes is no longer a criminal offense in the state of California. Under current law, adult possession of one ounce (28.5 grams) or less of marijuana is now classified as an infraction, punishable by a maximum $100 fine with no required court appearance or costs and no effect on your criminal record.
Bill 1449 follows a trend of legislation steering away from criminal prosecution. Under Prop 36, effective as of July 1, 2001, first-and-second-time possession-only offenders can ask for a treatment program in lieu of jail time and following successful completion of the program, the conviction is erased. Furthermore, personal use cultivation offenders as well as possession offenders can avoid conviction through a pre-guilty plea pursuant to California Penal Code § 1000, where following the successful completion of a diversion program the offender’s charges are dismissed. Possession offenses can also be expunged from a person’s record after two years.
Scott Hughes is a criminal defense lawyer in Orange County, California practicing in State and Federal Court.