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California Health & Safety Code 11357 – Possession Of Marijuana


Health and Safety Code § 11357 HS, defines the restrictions regarding the possession of marijuana within the state of California. According to Health and Safety Code § 11357 HS, individuals who are 21 years of age or older are legally permitted to have in their possession a maximum of 28.5 grams of dried marijuana. Alternatively, they may possess up to 8 grams of the concentrated form of cannabis, commonly referred to as hashish.

In California, If you’re below eighteen years of age and have more than one instance of possessing up to 28.5 grams of cannabis or 8 grams of hashish, the repercussions include 6 hours of counseling and as much as 20 hours of community service. For individuals aged between 18 and 21, a $100 fine is imposed for such possession.

However, the rules are stricter for those under 18 possessing more than the stipulated 28.5 grams of cannabis or eight grams of hashish. In such scenarios, for multiple infractions, they are mandated to undergo 10 hours of counseling and could face up to 60 hours of community service, as per Section 11357. If you’re over eighteen and caught with quantities exceeding the aforementioned limits, the punishment escalates to a potential 6 months in county jail or a $500 fine, or in some cases, both penalties may be applied.

On the other hand, If you’re 18 years of age or older and have a prior conviction under this specific legal section, carrying more than 28.5 grams of marijuana or eight grams of hashish on school property during school hours could result in a fine of up to $500. Additionally, you could face up to 10 days in a local county jail, or even both a fine and jail time. For those under 18, having these amounts on school premises during operational hours could lead to up to 10 hours of counseling and potentially 60 hours of community service if there are multiple infractions under Section 11357.

Elements For Health And Safety Code 11357

For a conviction on marijuana possession charges to be secured, the prosecution needs to successfully demonstrate the below listed criteria:

  • The accused had unlawful possession of a regulated material.
  • The accused was aware of the material’s presence.
  • The accused had knowledge regarding the material’s classification as a regulated substance.
  • The regulated substance in question was identified as marijuana.
  • The quantity of marijuana in the possession of the accused surpassed 28.5 grams.

Example For California penal code 11357

Suppose a 25-year-old individual, Alex, is found in possession of 30 grams of marijuana, which is above the legal limit of 28.5 grams for non-concentrated cannabis. In this scenario, under Health & Safety Code § 11357 HS, Alex could be subjected to legal consequences due to the possession of marijuana in excess of the stipulated legal amount. The nuances of enforcement and the exact legal repercussions can vary based on the specifics of the situation, such as whether Alex has prior convictions, the circumstances of the discovery of the marijuana, among other factors.

Penalties for Marijuana Possession Crimes after Prop 64 (Health & Safety Code 11357(A) to (D))

HSC §11357(a) – Possession of Marijuana, First-Time Offense for Minors

If you’re a minor caught with no more than 28.5 grams of cannabis or 8 grams of hashish for the first time, you’re looking at 4 hours of mandatory counseling and a maximum of 10 hours of community service. These obligations must be fulfilled within a 60-day period. For any subsequent offenses, the counseling time increases to 6 hours, and community service can go up to 20 hours, to be completed within 90 days.


HSC §11357(a) – Possession of Marijuana, Penalties for Ages 18-21

For individuals aged between 18 and 21, getting caught with cannabis under this section will result in a $100 fine.

HSC §11357(b), Possession of Marijuana, Amounts Exceeding Limits for Minors

Minors found with more than the aforementioned 28.5 grams of cannabis or 8 grams of hashish will face 8 hours of counseling and up to 40 hours of community service for the first offense. These must be completed within 90 days. Any subsequent offenses will require 10 hours of counseling and up to 60 hours of community service, to be completed within 120 days.

HSC §11357(b), Possession of Marijuana, Penalties for Adults

Adults caught with more than the specified amounts can face either a $500 fine, 6 months in county jail, or both.

HSC §11357(c) – Possession of Marijuana on School Ground, Adults 18 Years or Older

If you’re 18 or older and caught with more than 28.5 grams of cannabis or 8 grams of hashish on school premises during school hours, you could be fined up to $250 for a first offense. Any subsequent offenses could result in a $500 fine, 10 days in county jail, or both.

HSC §11357(d), Possession of Marijuana on School Grounds, Under 18 Years Old

Minors caught with more than the specified amounts on school property during school hours will face 8 hours of counseling and up to 40 hours of community service for the first offense, to be completed within 90 days. Any subsequent offenses will require 10 hours of counseling and up to 60 hours of community service, to be completed within 120 days.

Immigration Consequences

  • Deportability: Under federal immigration law, a non-U.S. citizen can face deportation for any controlled substance offense, with very limited exceptions. Even a minor marijuana possession offense under California law could potentially trigger deportation proceedings.
  • Inadmissibility: Apart from deportability, another major immigration consequence is inadmissibility. A conviction for a controlled substance offense, including marijuana, can render a non-U.S. citizen inadmissible. This means they could be barred from re-entering the U.S. after travel abroad, or from becoming a legal permanent resident.
  • Impact on Naturalization: A marijuana-related conviction might also affect a non-U.S. citizen’s ability to naturalize as a U.S. citizen. It could be considered a violation of the good moral character requirement, which is a crucial eligibility factor for naturalization.
  • Employment-Based Immigration Consequences: Marijuana-related convictions may also impact employment-based visa applications and renewals. Employers and non-U.S. citizens should be aware of these potential immigration consequences when considering employment in states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana.

Related Crimes

While Proposition 64 made progress in the legalization and access to cannabis, some laws make these efforts complex. Similar offenses include the following:

  • Possession of a Controlled Substance – California Health & Safety Code Section 11350 HSC
  • Cultivating Marijuana – California Health & Safety Code Section 11358 HSC
  • Possession for Sale of Marijuana – California Health & Safety Code Section 11359 HSC
  • Selling Marijuana – California Health & Safety Code Section 11360 HSC
  • Employment of Minor to Sell, etc., Marijuana (HSC §11361(a))
  • Driving with an Open Container of Cannabis (California Vehicle Code [CVC] §23222(b)(1)).

Defenses To Possession Of Marijuana Under Health And Safety Code §11357

Various defenses can be mounted against a charge under Health and Safety Code §11357 in California regarding the possession of marijuana. The following defenses, among others, can be employed depending on the specifics of the case:

  • Illegal Search and Seizure: One of the common defenses is asserting that the marijuana was discovered during an illegal search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. If it’s proven that the law enforcement officials violated this right, the evidence (in this case, marijuana) obtained from the illegal search may be deemed inadmissible in court​.
  • Lack of Possession: Claiming that you didn’t possess any marijuana or the marijuana wasn’t yours is another defense. This could be in a scenario where the marijuana belonged to someone else, or you were unaware of the marijuana’s presence​.
  • Misidentification of Substance: The defense could also argue that the substance in question was not marijuana. This would typically require laboratory analysis to disprove the claim that the substance is marijuana​.
  • Lack of Knowledge: If you didn’t know that the pot was there, it could serve as a defense. This is referred to as inadvertence and could be plausible in various scenarios, for example, if someone else left marijuana in your vehicle without your knowledge​.
  • Medical Marijuana Defense: If the defendant possessed a valid prescription for the marijuana pursuant to California’s Compassionate Use Act, they would not be guilty of possession under California Health & Safety Code Section 11357 HSC. This act, passed in 1996, made it legal to cultivate and possess marijuana for medical purposes under certain circumstances​

The most suitable defense would heavily depend on the specifics of the individual case, including the circumstances of the arrest and the defendant’s history. Legal counsel should be sought to determine the most appropriate defense strategy in a case involving a charge under Health and Safety Code §11357 in California.

Marijuana Legalization & Proposition 64

California’s progressive stance towards cannabis took a significant turn with the endorsement of Proposition 64 by voters in November 2016. The legislation officially took effect from January 2018, marking a new era in the state’s cannabis policy. This initiative allows individuals aged twenty-one and above to legally possess, use, and transport marijuana within a specified limit of 28.5 grams, which is roughly one ounce, or eight grams in the case of concentrated cannabis. Exceeding these limits could lead to a Misdemeanor charge, while individuals under the age threshold may be directed towards drug counseling or community service.


Furthermore, Proposition 64 lays down stringent guidelines concerning marijuana possession or usage within school premises during operational hours or any school-associated activities. Individuals aged eighteen and above could face fines, whereas those below eighteen may be referred to drug counseling or community service. The law also delineates where marijuana can be smoked; only in legally sanctioned areas that enforce the age restriction, and do not engage in the sale of alcohol or tobacco, or within the private confines of one’s home.

The proposition has also reformed the regulations surrounding the possession of marijuana for sales purposes. While businesses have the green light to sell marijuana, individuals intending to sell it could face a Misdemeanor charge, unless they have a serious felony, a sex crime, or at least two prior convictions for marijuana possession for sale on their record, or if they have sold to minors.

The legal framework surrounding marijuana transportation has been amended under Proposition 64, aligning it with the laws concerning marijuana possession for sale, within the stipulated limits. Unlicensed individuals caught transporting marijuana could face a Misdemeanor charge, with exceptions similar to those in the case of possession for sale.

Additionally, individuals are now authorized to cultivate up to six marijuana plants. However, those aged twenty-one and above cultivating more than the permitted number may face a Misdemeanor charge, unless they have certain prior convictions or violate environmental laws, whereas individuals below twenty-one may face an Infraction charge.

A significant feature of Proposition 64 is the provision allowing individuals previously convicted on marijuana-related charges to seek sentence reductions. The law now presumes eligibility for sentence reduction, placing the onus on the prosecution to argue against it, provided they can substantiate a potential public safety threat. This provision could potentially lead to sentence mitigation, immediate release, or the reinstatement of certain rights, offering a semblance of relief and justice to those affected by the previous stringent marijuana laws.

What Can I Do If I’m Charged With Possession Of Marijuana?

Drug offenses, including marijuana possession, are taken seriously in California. If you find yourself facing such charges, it’s important to consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer immediately. Your liberties, legal rights, and future prospects could be in jeopardy. Understand the drug offender registry in California if you have been convicted of certain drug offenses.

A seasoned criminal defense attorney can offer invaluable assistance by:

  • Brokering a plea bargain to lessen the charges against you;
  • Working to minimize your sentencing;
  • Or even striving to have the charges against you dropped altogether.

Cyrus Tabibnia of Tabibnia Law is a well-regarded criminal defense attorney with a deep understanding of California’s legal systems. Specializing in drug-related offenses, he has a wealth of experience navigating the local court systems, particularly in Los Angeles County and other parts of Southern California.

If you or someone you know is facing charges for marijuana possession, Cyrus Tabibnia will meticulously review the specifics of your situation and formulate a defense approach aimed at securing the most favorable outcome possible for you. Call: (866) 713-2159

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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