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    As a former Deputy Public Defender in Riverside County, Mr. Donath has always been on the defense side of the law. 

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CA’s New Marijuana Laws and How to Change Past Weed Convictions

Posted in Drug FAQ'S on January 27, 2017

More than 57 percent of voters in California decided to approve Proposition 64, otherwise known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. This means that marijuana is now legal to use, possess and grow, with stipulations of course. Another thing that the new law changes are the harsh penalties that used to come with marijuana use. For those who were already imprisoned based on the old laws, the new ones provide an opportunity.

What Does Prop 64 Say?

Yes, people can use and even grow marijuana now, but legalization does not mean you can have as much as you want. Here is what California Proposition 64 legalizes, so long as you are 21 years of age or older:

  • Possession of 28.5 grams (roughly one ounce) of marijuana. If you possess more than this you are subject to a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine.
  • Possession of 4 grams of concentrated cannabis.
  • Cultivation of up to six marijuana plants.
  • Imposes state excise taxes on recreational sales, and cultivation taxes on marijuana plants.
  • Medical marijuana is exempt from taxation.
  • Many crimes reduced from felonies to misdemeanors, such as possessing or transporting with intent to sell.

There are a lot of stipulations in the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, including restrictions on advertising, packaging and general promotion to minors. The industry as a whole will be strictly monitored by the state, and counties and cities within California can still institute their own regulations regarding recreational marijuana.

One reason that the legalization of recreational marijuana has been such a popular issue is the need for criminal justice reform. There are many in jail for harsh penalties implemented under the old law who otherwise do not have a criminal record or a violent history. So how can those people go about getting their sentence changed?

How to Change Your Record

Proposition 47 was the first to reduce penalties for simple drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. This helped reduce the prison population in California drastically; Los Angeles alone reduced the number of prisoners in their system by 1,400 people within just two months of Prop 47 being enacted. The long-reaching effects here are the state savings: it’s projected that California could save as much as $200 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year. Now that Prop 64 has been enacted, it could give many a second chance at life.

If you were convicted of a marijuana crime before this law was installed, you can apply for re-sentencing. You would do this by first contacting a defense lawyer who will file a petition on your behalf. This law is also retroactive; if you have a non-violent felony drug conviction on your record, no matter how long ago you were convicted, you can petition to have it changed to a misdemeanor.

There is usually no requirement for a court appearance or hearing, unless the judge or the prosecutor has questions for you. The California Courts approach each case on an individual basis, because they understand that each situation is unique.

  • If your sentence is reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, you may still have to serve some prison time if you have not already exceeded the maximum penalty allowable under misdemeanor laws, which is one year.
  • If your reduced sentence frees you from prison, you may still be placed on probation or parole depending on how the judge re-sentences you.
  • If your sentence is reduced to a misdemeanor, you would still have to pay any restitution determined by the court.

Upon completion of your re-sentencing, you will receive a Minute Order from the court which details all the parameters that you now must follow. It’s imperative that you look over this with your lawyer and follow of its provisions.

If you want to petition the court to have your sentence reduced or reversed under these laws, contact the Law Offices of Graham Donath for representation. Your first consultation is free, and we have office locations in Riverside and Irvine, CA for your convenience.