California Proposition 64: What You Should Know About Old And New Marijuana Charges

15 December 2016
 Categories: , Blog

California's Proposition 64 is legislation that passed in November of 2016, legalizing recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over. That essentially eliminates prosecution for the personal use of marijuana—but it also changes things for those who are already in jail, on parole, or on probation for a marijuana charge as well. If this applies to you, learn more about how the new law could affect your case and what you should do next.

What's legal under Proposition 64?

California's laws now make it legal to possess, process, transport, obtain and give away up to an ounce of marijuana. You're also allowed to cultivate up to 6 plants for personal use and possess whatever those 6 plants produce. Medical marijuana users are actually allowed even greater leeway. 

You still can't smoke or ingest marijuana in public, except under certain conditions, but violations of those laws are infractions only punishable by fines. Like alcohol, you can't drive while impaired due to marijuana use and you can't have an open container of marijuana or marijuana products while in a vehicle. 

Keep in mind that marijuana possession and use is still against federal law, although the Department of Justice currently is deferring to state laws on this issue. That means that about an average of 12,000 people per year would no longer face felony convictions for marijuana use in California.

How does Proposition 64 affect those with prior marijuana-related convictions?

Proposition 64 also allows courts to resentence people who are currently serving a sentence for any crime that has a reduced penalty under the act. It also allows the courts to redesignate or dismiss those offenses from the criminal records of people who have already completed their sentences.

In plain language, that means that if you are currently serving a jail or prison term, are on parole, or are on probation for something that's no longer a crime under Proposition 64, you can appeal to the court for post-conviction relief to have your sentence reduced accordingly. In some cases, that means that a felony would become a misdemeanor, and a misdemeanor would become merely an infraction with a fine attached. In other cases—like an old arrest for giving someone a pot-laden brownie—your record might be entirely wiped clean through expungement. 

If you're still on probation or parole, that could put an end to those restrictions. If you lost the right to vote, serve on a jury, or own a handgun due to a felony conviction that's no longer a felony under Proposition 64, you would regain those rights.

Keep in mind that the process is not automatic—you still need to petition the court and ask for your charges to be reviewed. If the prosecutor wants your charge to stand, the burden is on him or her to prove that you don't meet the requirements for relief.

For more information about how to ask for relief due to Proposition 64, talk to a defense attorney in your area today.