California is undoubtedly one of the most liberal states in America when it comes to the use of marijuana. Though certain possession charges only amount to an infraction under state law, California still considers it a serious offense to cultivate marijuana. Unless a person has a legal right to do so—such as is the case with medical marijuana users—the penalties for illegally cultivating the drug can be quite serious.
California law is pretty specific when it comes to the cultivation of marijuana: it is a felony to grow marijuana. For this crime to be proven, an individual must have planted, cultivated, dried and processed marijuana. The penalties can vary significantly when a person is charged with this crime, depending on their intended use.
An individual who is simply growing marijuana for personal use is often eligible for a diversion program. An alternative to pleading guilty, a formal diversion creates an arrangement which would include programs based upon drug treatment rather than punishments; such as Prop 36 and drug courts. Dismissing of the charges might result from the agreement by the judge and prosecutor, or in some cases from the completion of certain programs.
For those who might regularly partake in this drug, one plant is often not enough to support that habit ; luring people to have several plants for just their private use. Unfortunately, police and prosecutors will often take the existence of numerous plants as evidence that a person intended to sell the drug, and this can lead to much more severe consequences.
Corresponding Bail Amounts
The potential penalties from cultivating marijuana are set forth by the state, but California does allow its counties to set their own bail amounts; this creates quite a variance from one part of the state to another. In Orange County, for instance, an individual may face a $20,000 bail amount if arrested for growing less than 25 lbs. of marijuana. However, this amount jumps to $50,000, if anything over twenty-five pounds are harvested.
In Los Angeles County, a person also faces $50,000 if cultivating over 25 lbs. If this amount is under one pound, however, bail is set at only $10,000. In Sacramento County, though, a person’s bail will be $10,000 for harvesting up to two pounds. All of those far surpass Santa Cruz County, however, which only sets bail at $2,500. Bail Hotline provides payment plans for posting your bond, at a mere fraction of the actual bail face amount.
Penalties for Cultivating Marijuana
The penalties for cultivating marijuana are amongst the most straight forward for any crime in California. Anyone convicted of this act can face up to three years in a California state penitentiary. As mentioned, a judge may consider a diversion program, but this is only in very specific circumstances.
It’s also important to point out that a judge may grant an individual probation, but this may still have its own dire consequences. If probation is granted, a person will likely remain on it for three years and may still have to serve an entire year in a California jail. This will also likely include hefty fines paid to the court and a probation officer, and could impact your current or future employment.
It’s true that California is one of the most accepting states in the Union when it comes to marijuana. This doesn’t mean, however, that an individual can do whatever they want with the drug. Cultivating the marijuana plant is a serious felony, and since there’s no definitive amount which constitutes “personal use,” an individual can face detrimental consequences even if they were actually growing it just for themselves.