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In 2015, Oregon became the latest state, and the first state bordering California, to legalize recreational marijuana. Nevada may soon follow. If you are visiting Oregon - or Washington state or Colorado - and buy some pot, you are well within your legal rights to do so. If you bring some of your pot home with you to California, however, you can face both state and federal criminal charges.

California Criminal Charges

If you bring in some legal out-of-state weed to California, the criminal charges and penalties you could face depend largely on the amount you have on you at the time you're arrested.

  • Transporting/Importing Marijuana into the State. The act of transporting or importing marijuana into California is a distinct criminal offense under California Health and Safety Code 11360. It is a felony to import into California, sell, furnish, or administer any amount of any type of marijuana (including concentrated cannabis). Upon conviction, the penalties can include two, three or four years in county jail.
  • Marijuana Possession. If you are arrested with no more than one ounce or 28.5 grams of marijuana on you (other than concentrated cannabis), it is an infraction, punishable by a maximum fine of $100. (California Health & Safety Code 11357(b)).

If you bring back more than one ounce of marijuana (other than concentrated cannabis) you could face up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $500.

If you are arrested for possessing concentrated cannabis (hashish), you can be charged with a misdemeanor that could result in up to one year in a county jail and a fine of up to $500. However, you could face felony charges if you have been previously convicted of certain other offenses.

  • Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Sell. If you were thinking of making some money by selling the pot you brought back from out of state, you can be charged with and convicted of a California felony for possession of marijuana with intent to sell and face up to 16 months, or two or three years in county jail. (California Health and Safety Code 11359)

Federal Criminal Charges

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. By virtue of the fact that you are crossing state lines with marijuana, even from a state where pot is legal, you could face federal criminal charges for trafficking marijuana. (21 U.S.C. § 841). Federal marijuana laws are much harsher than California's pot laws, and a conviction can result in years behind bars in a federal prison as well as thousands of dollars in fines.

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Gerald Schwab, Jr.


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Law Office of Gerald Schwab, Jr.
Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney
5588 N Palm Ave,
Fresno, CA 93704
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Phone: 559.441.1418