Deputies at the SCV Sheriff’s Station received a call on Saturday, June 22 warning them of a “huge party” that was to take place at a location in Canyon Country. Upon their arrival, the deputies discovered the location to be vacant. However, they did discover what appeared to be the remnants of a marijuana concentrate lab. They detained three people at the location for further questioning.
Under California Law, concentrated cannabis is regarded as marijuana. As such, the legality of it is somewhat nuanced, thanks to the medical and recreational marijuana laws. That being said, the making of marijuana concentrate is covered under California Health and Safety Code 11358 HS. As of Jan. 1, 2018, cultivating marijuana for recreational use became legal under California Law. That is, California residents are now legally allowed (under state law, not federal law) to cultivate up to six marijuana plants for personal recreational use. It must be grown in a secured indoor location or, where legally permissible, a secured area outdoors, subject to all local regulations. The reason that concentrated cannabis counts as “cultivating marijuana” is because, under California Law, “cultivating” means to plant, cultivate, harvest, dry or process marijuana. Making concentrated cannabis counts as “processing” marijuana.
However, if an individual cultivates more than six marijuana plants, it becomes a crime. For most defendants, cultivating more than six plants is a misdemeanor with the possible penalties of up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500. However, the penalties get harsher if a person is caught cultivating more than six plants and fall under one or more of the following categories:
Registered sex offender
Prior criminal record, which includes at least one violent felony
People with at least two prior convictions of cultivating more than six marijuana plants
People who violate certain California Environmental Laws during the process of cultivating their marijuana
Any defendant who falls into at least one of these categories faces a penalty of 16 months to 3 years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
For defendants who are facing their first or second charge of cultivating marijuana and it can be proven that the cultivation was for personal use only, it’s possible that they will be eligible to have their sentence suspended if they undergo a drug diversion program instead. If they complete the drug treatment program, their charges will be thrown out, and therefore cease to exist for the most part, and it will not need to be listed on any housing, job or other applications.