Marijuana California Law 2016 and Driving Under Influence

Marijuana California Law 2016 and Driving Under Influence – California became the first state in America to legalize medical marijuana. Since 1996, it has been at the frontier of cannabis laws with fewer penalties for possession of Marijuana.

It was necessary for reforms since the policies are becoming outdated. Now the focus is to protect the environment, communities, and kids.

California has a Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) which is comprised of three bills that aim at treating the drug as alcohol through tax and regulations. However, there are some lawmaker bills which are against it.

The AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643 bills will be responsible for marijuana commercial medical cannabis cultivation, testing, transportation, distribution, manufacturing, licensing and sales.

The state has up to January 2018 to set up the necessary regulations, agencies and information systems to actually begin issuing licenses and give power to the act.  The new agencies are under the AB 266 (Bonta/Cooley/Jones-Sawyer/Lackey) bill, whereas most of the regulations and policies fall under the SB 643 & AB 243 bill.

It is a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana which is listed under the Vehicle Code 23152(e) VC.  Marijuana, in this case, falls under drugs.

According to a comprehensive roadside alcohol and drug survey, done by the Pacific Institute for Research and evaluated by California highway department, 7% of drivers on the road test positive for marijuana.

The nature of marijuana is that it gets stored in the fatty tissues, so you might not detect the presences of the fat-soluble element after 12 hours from time of consumption. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA), it is difficult to relate a person’s impairment to his or her THC blood or plasma concentration.

Since the amount of THC in the bloodstream cannot be determined the arresting police officer will depend on your physical and mental abilities.

Currently, there is no scientific measure that can assist the court to prove or establish the amount of marijuana you have consumed or the period of use.

However, people who smoke marijuana occasionally might record positive chemical tests on THC.

The prosecutor has to prove that you were driving a motor vehicle at the time you were caught under the influence of marijuana.

The conviction can be rather subjective at this point. The officer will depend on personal observations like:

  • Smoke in the car, in possession of weed (more than one (1) ounce of marijuana) or odor
  • Weaving or swerving on the road
  • Slurred speech
  • Physical appearance and conduct
  • Red and watery eyes
  • Failing field sobriety tests (horizontal gaze nystagmus test, walk and turn test and one leg stand test)

The police officer might call for a Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE), who is trained to identify signs of impairment, to the scene. If you are addicted to marijuana, withdrawal symptoms might make you unfit to drive. At DUI checkpoints, saliva drug swab test might be used. 

The ones who have a habit of smoking marijuana and drinking at the same time have the potential of recording positive chemical tests.

Possession of larger amounts of marijuana is a misdemeanor ($500 fine and 6 months in jail). If you are in possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana in your vehicle then you are liable for a maximum misdemeanor fine of $100.

Minors convicted of marijuana DUI (any amount) will be charged and face a 12-month driver’s license suspension.

Therefore you are guilty of DUI marijuana if there is evidence or proof that you were driving while impaired. No exception is provided for marijuana when used for medicinal purpose and arrested for violating the traffic rules.

The increase of marijuana use in California has not provided any link to traffic fatalities- actually there has been a drop. Under the Implied Consent, you will still be charged for a DUI if you refuse to take chemical tests.

The AB 243 (Wood)

The AB 243 (Wood) tends to control the following bodies the State Department of Public Health, the Department of Food and Agriculture, the State Water Resources Control Board, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

These agencies have to come up with rules and regulations that govern cultivation and the medical marijuana standards; Marijuana has an impact on the environment in terms of cultivation which needs to be mitigated.

In the same act, one will require applying for the license which comes with a renewal fee to be charged by state licensing authority.

When one violates the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act he or she will be liable for certain fines and civil penalties imposed by the bill on specific violations.

AB 266 (Bonta/Cooley/Jones-Sawyer/Lackey)

The AB 266 (Bonta) is responsible for enacting the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (licensing and regulation). This bill will be under the Department of Consumer Affairs the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation.

The one in charge of supervising and to administering or enforce the provisions of the act will be the Director of Consumer Affairs.

In addition, the movement of the commercial cannabis and cannabis products will go through a system developed by the Board of Equalization – in consultation with the Department of Food and Agriculture.

The bill also imposes certain fines and civil penalties for specific violations of the act.

SB 643 (McGuire)

On the other hand, the SB 643 (McGuire) bill sets the standards for prescription and require the Medical Board of California to be in charge of identifying physician and surgeon prescribing medical cannabis without a good faith examination. 

The board is required to discipline the ones that violate the act. This bill can impose a state-mandated local program if a new crime is created under the violation of this prohibition as a misdemeanor.

This requires the doctor to do an appropriate prior examination and medical indication before prescribing, dispensing, or furnishing, or cause to be prescribed, dispensed, or furnished, dangerous drugs or dangerous devices to patients- over prescription is being discouraged.

Anyone found guilty of violating section 2242.1 of the bill either get a fine or citation (issued by the board or a civil penalty) of up to $25,000 per occurrence.

You will require a state license and a local permit or other authorization from licensing authorities to engaging in commercial cannabis activity.

It is a misdemeanor to recommend a cannabis patient to a facility based on “financial interest”. You will be punished by going to jail for 1 year and a fine or civil penalties of $5,000.

The bill requires the Bureau of Medical Marijuana to be in possession of some personal information of the applicant such as the fingerprint or criminal record – these can be obtained from the Department of Justice and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The bill requires the appointment of a chief of the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation by a governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

The bill also has connections to the Department of Food and Agriculture and the State Department of Public Health in the administration of the provisions of the act. The bill will impose specified duties and authorize counties to impose tax charges on cannabis-related activities.

The power of this bill extends in both the environmental and licensing departments.

AB 1575

A “clean-up bill“, AB 1575, was introduced in the act which puts regulations on delivery services and deals with the holding of multiple licenses.

The bill clarifies that cities and counties are allowed to add fees and taxes on top of state fees.

It defines a collective based on profits and also clarifies the criminal statutes. More to this bill can be accessed from the following link 

Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA).

California also has another pending act, Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). Its initiative is to protect Californians and the environment from potential dangers. In simple words, the act will control the legal use of marijuana for those who are above the age of 21 through tax and regulations in production, manufacture, and sale of marijuana.

The established law that regulates marijuana cultivation, sale, distribution and use will protect children. The annual tax revenue is expected to be as high as 15% which can generate about $1 billion annually.

It aims at developing a framework for best practices which makes adults responsible for the use and impacts of Marijuana. California does not tax medical cannabis sales, so the growth in sales has made the State of California lose hundreds of millions of dollars which can benefit the state in various ways.

Is proper methods are developed and adopted, then the state will gather enough funds for the community.

These funds can be used for:

  • Public health programs (youth education on substance abuse)
  • Train local law enforcement especially the DUI enforcement
  • Reduce the illicit market through community investment
  • Create a job market
  • Prevent illegal marijuana cultivation that damages the public lands

In the MMSRA act, there are 10 types of Cultivation licenses, 2 types of Dispensary licenses, 2 types of Manufacturing licenses, a Distribution license, a Transportation license and a Testing license. With this act, manufacturers and farmers still maintain their contact with dispensaries and still set their own prices.

License types under SB 643 (19331(g)) and AB 266 (19300.7))


LICENSE TYPESNatureSpecialtySize
Type 1CultivationOutdoorUp to 5,000 square ft. of canopy, or up to 50 non-contiguous plants
Type 1ACultivationIndoorUp to 5000 sq. ft.
Type 1BCultivationMixed-light -Using exclusively artificial lighting Type 2CultivationOutdoor – using a combination of artificial and natural lightingUp to 5000 sq. ft.
Type 2ACultivationIndoor5001 -10,000 sq. ft.
Type 2BCultivationMixed-light5001 -10,000 sq. ft.
Type 3CultivationOutdoor.10,001 sq. ft. – 1 Acre
Type 3ACultivationIndoor10,001 – 22,000 sq. ft.
Type 3BCultivationMixed-light10,001 – 22,000 sq. ft.
Type 4Cultivation Nursery
Type 6Manufacturer 1Products not using volatile solvents.
Type 7Manufacturer 2Products using volatile solvents 
Type 8Testing  
Type 10DispensaryGeneral 
Type 10ADispensaryNo more than three retail sites 
Type 11Distribution  
Type 12Transporter  

Open container laws on Consumption or possession of marijuana or marijuana products while driving or with a passenger applies in this case. Since it is lawful to transport marijuana, you will also be liable to for arrest if you are not in possession of the right documents or license. As much as using marijuana in public is illegal then, driving while impaired is also illegal.

Department of Consumer Affairs has given the Bureau of Marijuana Control the chief authority to regulate this industry. The department will be in charge of licensing transport, distribution and sale. The department of Food and Agriculture is in charge of licensing cultivation.

To get a manufacturing and testing license you will get it from the Department of Public Health.

The MMRSA effectively prohibiting direct farm-to-consumer sales while the AUMA does not prohibit vertical integration of licenses- except type 5 large cultivators, who may not hold distribution or testing licenses. You cannot sell at less than cost to undercut competitors, price discrimination between different locations, restraint of trade or fixing the price.

 The Marijuana Control Appeals Panel which is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate will review the license appeals.  You will be denied a license if you have a felony record related to the requirements of the business.

There are no requirements that only residence of California can be owners and investors.

Some local governments have banned personal cultivation, but patients will be allowed to grow their own medical marijuana provided that they do not be involved in cannabis sale, giving or donating without a license.  The government limits the patients grow space to 100 square feet.

Penalties for Possession of marijuana

  1. Possession of any concentrated cannabis: 1 year prison or fine of up to $500 or both
  2. Up to 28.5 grams: infraction and fine of up to $100
  3. Over 28.5 grams: 6 months prison or fine up to $500 or both
  4. Over 18 and possession under 28.5 grams on grounds of school: misdemeanor – fine up to $500
  5. Under 18 and possession under 28.5 grams on grounds of school: misdemeanor – fine up to $250
  6. Second offense: up to 10 days in juvenile home program or up to $500

Sale penalties

  1. Possession for sale: 2-4 yrs. imprisonment in state prison
  2. If under 28.5 grams: misdemeanor -fine up to $100;
  3. Adult involving a minor under 14 in cannabis activities: state prison for 3, 5, 7 years
  4. Adult involving a minor over 14 in cannabis activities: state prison for 3, 4, 5 years

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

The Penalties for marijuana DUI in California varies as follows:

Convictions (within 10 years)First offenderSecond offenderThird offenderFelonies
Fine$390 – $1,000$390 – $1,000$390 – $1,000$390 – $1,000
License suspensionUp to 6 monthsUp to 2 yearsUp to 3 years 
Jail sentence96 hours-6 months90 days -1 year120 days -1 yearUp to 1 year
InstallationsIgnition interlock deviceIgnition interlock deviceIgnition interlock device 
OthersDUI programsDUI programsDUI programsDUI programs

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