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Health And Safety Code 11362.3 | Marijuana Law California


California Health and Safety Code 11362.3 HS clearly states that using marijuana in public spaces or having an open container of it in a vehicle is against the law. Even though adults can now legally use recreational cannabis, there are still restrictions outlined in this regulation. It is considered an infraction to have an open container or package of cannabis or cannabis products while you’re driving, operating a vehicle, or even sitting in the passenger seat or compartment of a car, boat, aircraft, or any other type of transportation. This rule applies to both the driver and the passengers.

In California, adults aged 21 and older can now lawfully possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana for their personal use. However, according to California Health & Safety Code 11362.3 HS, individuals are prohibited from engaging in the following seven activities:

  • Consuming Marijuana Publicly: It’s against the law to smoke or ingest marijuana in public places.
  • Non-Smoking Areas: Smoking marijuana is not permitted in areas designated as non-smoking zones.
  • Proximity to Certain Locations: Within a radius of 1,000 feet from schools, day care centers, or youth centers while children are present, smoking marijuana is prohibited.
  • Open Containers in Vehicles: Having an open container of marijuana in a motor vehicle, aircraft, or water vessel is not allowed.
  • School, Day Care, or Youth Center Grounds: Consuming marijuana by smoking or ingesting it on the premises of a school, day care center, or youth center while children are present is prohibited.
  • Concentrated Cannabis Production: Creating concentrated cannabis using volatile solvents is not permitted.
  • Using Marijuana While Operating Vehicles: It is illegal to smoke or ingest marijuana while driving a motor vehicle, aircraft, or water vessel, or while being a passenger in one.

Understanding the elements of the offense, potential penalties, immigration consequences, and available defenses can help individuals make informed decisions and protect their rights within the confines of the law.


To understand and apply California Health and Safety Code 11362.3 HS correctly, it’s crucial to be aware of the key elements that constitute the offense. The elements of the crime may include:

  • Unauthorized Possession: Possession of marijuana in amounts exceeding legal limits or without a valid medical recommendation.
  • Cultivation Violations: Cultivating marijuana plants beyond the permissible limit or without proper authorization.
  • Distribution and Sales: Engaging in the sale or distribution of marijuana without adhering to the state’s regulatory guidelines.
  • Transportation Offenses: Transporting marijuana across state lines, or within the state without complying with state laws.


Example 1: John possesses more marijuana than legally allowed under California law. If the quantity exceeds the legal limit, he could be charged with a marijuana offense under this code.

Example 2: Sarah is cultivating marijuana plants in her backyard without obtaining the required permits. Her actions could lead to charges under the code.

Example 3: Mark is selling marijuana to individuals without verifying their age or complying with the state’s cannabis retail regulations. He could face penalties outlined in the code.


California Health and Safety Code 11362.3 HS intersects with several related crimes, including:

  • Federal Drug Offenses: Despite California’s state-level legalization, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. This can lead to federal drug charges in certain cases.  If you’re looking for information on expunging a federal crime in California, be sure to check out the blog post “Can A Federal Crime Be Expunged In California?” for valuable insights.
  • Possession of Controlled Substances: If an individual possesses substances classified as controlled substances under federal law, they may face charges unrelated to the marijuana code.
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Driving while impaired by marijuana is a separate offense that can result in DUI charges.


The penalties for violating California Health and Safety Code 11362.3 HS can vary based on the nature and severity of the offense. These penalties may include:

  • Fines: Convictions can lead to substantial fines that can vary based on factors such as the quantity of marijuana involved and the defendant’s criminal history.
  • Probation: In certain cases, probation may be granted instead of jail time, requiring the defendant to adhere to specific conditions.
  • Jail Time: Depending on the offense, individuals could face imprisonment. The length of the sentence depends on the specific circumstances and the judge’s discretion.


It’s important to note that marijuana-related offenses can have significant implications for non-U.S. citizens, including lawful permanent residents and visa holders. Even though California has legalized marijuana, federal immigration law considers marijuana offenses as grounds for deportation, denial of admission, or other immigration-related consequences. Our firm can refer you to an excellent immigration attorney, if necessary.


When facing charges under California Health and Safety Code 11362.3 HS, several defenses can be explored, such as:

  • Medical Necessity: If an individual possesses or uses marijuana for medical reasons and has a valid recommendation, this can serve as a defense.
  • Lack of Knowledge: Claiming ignorance of the law or lack of awareness about the marijuana’s presence can sometimes be used as a defense.
  • Invalid Search and Seizure: If evidence was obtained unlawfully or without a proper warrant, it may be challenged in court.


Given the complexities of the legal system and the potential consequences of marijuana offenses under California Health and Safety Code 11362.3 HS, it’s highly advisable to seek legal representation. A skilled criminal defense lawyer with expertise in cannabis law can provide invaluable assistance in understanding the charges, building a strong defense, and navigating the legal process. Understand the drug offender registry in California if you have been convicted of certain drug offenses.


If you have been arrested on marijuana-related charges, consult with an experienced Los Angeles drug crime defense attorney from Tabibnia Law Firm. Cyrus Tabibnia will conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding your case and determine whether your arrest was conducted on dubious grounds or was in violation of your rights. To learn more about what our firm can do for you, please call 866-713-2159 for a comprehensive consultation.

Tabibnia Law Firm is serving its clients throughout Southern California including Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Orange County, Beverly Hills, San Fernando Valley, Ventura county, Riverside County, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, Long Beach, Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Monterey Park, La Puente, Van Nuys, Pomona, Manhattan Beach, West Covina, Whittier, Downey, Woodland Hills, Norwalk, Torrance, Redondo Beach, San Bernardino, Walnut Creek, Inglewood, Lancaster, Westlake Village and nearby areas.

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Tabibnia Law Firm retains years of experience successfully representing individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes,Theft Crimes, Crime Against Children, Driving Crimes, Rape Crimes, driving under the influence (DUIs), domestic violence cases, drug possession cases, state and federal crimes, white color crimes, driving on a suspended license offenses, violent crimes, sex crimes, Forgery and all other criminal defense cases throughout Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Orange County, San Fernando Valley, Ventura County, Riverside County, San Bernardino, Van Nuys, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California. Call for a consultation today: 866-713-2159

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