California Marijuana Trafficking Laws

Can You Mail Weed Legally in California?

No. It is illegal to mail weed in California. Although recreational and medical use of marijuana is legal in California, mailing weed is unlawful. Federal law on mail delivery supersedes all state laws in the US. Since the United States Postal Service (USPS) is a federal agency, it strictly adheres to federal rules regarding parcel delivery regardless of a state’s marijuana laws. Using the USPS to mail marijuana anywhere in the US is a felony, according to 18 U.S. Code 1716. In addition, mailing marijuana via private services like DHL and FedEx is also illegal.

What Are the Penalties for Transporting Edibles Across State Lines in California?

The following are the applicable penalties according to the DEA’s Resource Guide:

  • Less than 50 kilograms: Not less than 5 years and a fine not more than $250,000.00 for an individual or $1,000,000.00 if not an individual for a first offense. Second-time offenders are liable to not less than 10 years and a fine of $500,000.00 for an individual, or $2,000,000.00 if not an individual.
  • 50 to 99 kilograms or more than 10 kilograms of hashish: Not less than 20 years, or 20 years to life if the crime involves death or serious injury. A $1,000,000.00 fine for an individual or $5,000,000.00 if not an individual also applies for a first-time offense. For a second offense, the penalty is not less than 30 years, or life imprisonment if there is death or serious bodily injury. Second-time offenders must also pay $2,000,000.00 for an individual or $10,000,000.00 if not an individual.
  • 100 to 999 kilograms:
    • First Offense: 5 to 40 years, or 20 years to life if serious bodily injury or death occurs. A fine not more than $5,000,000.00 for an individual or $25,000,000.00 if not an individual.
    • Second Offense: 10 years to life, or life imprisonment where there is death or serious bodily injury. $20,000,000.00 maximum fine for an individual, or $75,000,000.00 if other than an individual.
  • 1,000 kilograms or more:
    • First Offense: 10 years to life, or 20 years to life if the crime involves serious bodily injury or death. $10,000,000.00 fine for an individual, or $50,000,000.00 if not an individual.
    • Second Offense: 20 years to life, or life imprisonment if the crime involves death or serious injury. $20,000,000.00 fine for an individual or $75,000,000.00 if not an individual.

The National Library of Medicine defines edibles as food or food products that contain cannabis extract. Edibles may be chocolates, candies, beverages, baked goods, or other types of homemade, factory-made, or commercially-distributed food.

How to Get a Drug Trafficking Charge Dismissed in California

Depending on case specifics, there are several different ways to dismiss a drug trafficking charge in California, including the following:

  • Illegal Search: The defense can state that law enforcement illegally obtained evidence. An attorney may prove that the search or seizure was unlawful because officers did not follow due process, such as obtaining a warrant.
  • Insufficient Evidence: Since one of the factors required to charge is the knowledge that weed was present, it could be difficult for prosecutors to further a drug trafficking charge if the police find weed in a place where multiple people have access. For instance, a prosecutor might be unable to prove a case_ _where police found marijuana in a car not owned by the person driving if the defense argues that the driver had no knowledge of the marijuana when they borrowed the car.
  • Entrapment: Entrapment happens when a law enforcement officer or an informant causes someone to commit a crime, especially one they may not have committed otherwise. The defense can have a drug trafficking charge dismissed if they can prove that the defendant was entrapped.
  • Proof of Legal Possession: A trafficking charge may not hold if the weed caught in a person’s possession comes with a valid prescription. However, the carrier must provide such proof to law enforcement or the court.
  • Plea Deal: In some cases, offenders may negotiate a plea deal with the district attorney if other defenses don’t stick. The district attorney may reduce or dismiss charges in exchange for the accused’s cooperation with authorities. Offenders who meet certain requirements may also enter a drug treatment program in exchange for dismissal.

Depending on multiple factors in each case, the penalties for trafficking may be lighter or worse for drugs other than marijuana. Factors may include the specific drug, quantity, and whether or not there was violence.

Drug Trafficking Facts in California

According to California Health & Safety Code 11352, drug trafficking is the illegal sale, importation, or transportation of a controlled substance included in the US Controlled Substances Act. Generally, it is illegal to transport, import, sell, furnish, give, or administer a controlled substance, or offer to perform any of these actions.

The sale and transportation of marijuana and methamphetamines are prohibited by HS 11360 and HS 11379, respectively. California’s HS 11352 applies to the sale and transportation of several drugs, including but not limited to heroin, cocaine, and LSD.

Generally, drug trafficking in California is a felony. However, HS 11375.5 (stimulants) and 11357.5 (cannabis) prohibit the use, possession, and transportation of synthetic drugs. A synthetic drug is a type of drug designed or created to mimic the effect of another drug.

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) provides monitoring and enforcement for combating drug trafficking in the state through its Special Operations Unit (SOU). The SOU performs this function in collaboration with the California Highway Patrol. At the federal level, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is responsible for monitoring drug trafficking.

According to a report published by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) more than 1,000 licensed outfits retailed medical and recreational marijuana as of June 2020. In 2018, 17.7% of California adults at least 18 years old admitted to using weed in the past 30 days, according to a survey referenced in the report. At the time, the percentage of adults who use marijuana in the US was 10.5%. The same report states that more than half (58%) of all California adults prefer to smoke marijuana than ingest it in other ways.

How Many Grams of Weed Is Considered Trafficking in California?

According to HS 11357, any amount more than 28.5 grams of cannabis, or more than 8 grams of concentrated cannabis qualifies as trafficking. The law is very strict on all offenders unless the amount of weed trafficked is less than 28.5 grams, and the intended recipient is at least 21 years old.

The laws that govern marijuana trafficking and drug trafficking in California are slightly different. The penalty for drug trafficking includes 3-9 years in jail and a fine of up to $20,000.00. Depending on several aggravating factors such as quantity and type, additional penalties may include 3-5 years in county jail, up to $20,000.00 in fines, and felony probation.

What Are the Weed Trafficking Consequences in California?

The following are weed trafficking consequences in California according to HS 11357:

  • Less than 28.5 grams of cannabis or less than 8 grams of concentrated cannabis:
    • First offense if under 18 years old: 4 hours of drug counseling, and up to 10 hours of community service for a maximum of 60 days.
    • Second or subsequent offense if under 18 years old: 6 hours of drug counseling and up to 20 hours of community service for a maximum of 90 days
    • Persons at least 18 years old but under 21 years: Infraction punishable by a $100.00 maximum fine.
  • More than 28.5 grams of cannabis or more than 8 grams of concentrated cannabis:
    • First offense if under 18 years old: 8 hours of drug counseling and up to 40 hours of community service for a maximum of 90 days.
    • Second or subsequent offense if under 18 years: 10 hours of drug counseling and up to 60 hours of community service for a maximum of 120 days
    • Persons at least 18 years old: Imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum of 6 months, a fine not more than $500.00, or both
  • Less than 28.5 grams or less than 8 grams of concentrated cannabis within a school (kindergarten or grades 1 to 12) during hours of school or school-related program if at least 18 years old:
    • First offense: $250.00 maximum fine
    • Second or subsequent offense: $500.00 maximum fine, or county jail imprisonment for a maximum of 10 days, or both
  • Less than 28.5 grams or less than 8 grams of concentrated cannabis within a school (kindergarten or grades 1 to 12) during hours of school or school-related program if under 18 years old
    • First offense: 8 hours of drug counseling and not more than 40 hours of community service over a maximum of 90 days
    • Second or subsequent offense: 10 hours of drug counseling and not more than 60 hours of community service over a maximum of 120 days

How to Transport Weed Legally in California

California Vehicle Code 23222(b) allows adults to drive with cannabis only if it is in a sealed container. According to the law, persons with closed or resealed containers are only exempt if they have a medical card or a qualified doctor’s recommendation. Anyone who violates this rule is liable to a fine of up to $100.00. Regardless, California adults should note that transporting more than 28.5 grams of weed or 8 grams of cannabis concentrate could lead to stiffer penalties.

Transporting weed legally in California is also possible with a distribution license from the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). Interested businesses can apply for licenses after complying with local city and county rules. Application and license fees vary according to the business’s gross annual revenue. All licenses are valid for one year.

California Marijuana Trafficking Laws