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Ask the Lawyer: What amount of marijuana is legal to have in California?

Q: Just what is the law on legally possessing marijuana in California? Does it include growing plants?
-G.Z., Palos Verdes
Ron Sokol
A: In November 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64, known as the Adult Use Marijuana Act. Thereunder, recreational marijuana use is now legal for adults 21 years of age or older. Specifically, if you are at least 21, you are entitled to possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana flower, and up to 8 grams of marijuana concentrate. In addition, adults 2l years of age and older are allowed to have up to six living cannabis plants within their private residence.
Q: I have two questions: Since marijuana is legal here, what about driving under the influence of pot — still a bust?
-J.H., San Gabriel
A: It is illegal to drive while impaired (I.e., under the influence, be it alcohol or drugs). An officer can engage in testing if he or she has a reasonable belief that the driver is under the influence of marijuana (or some other drug). In sum, a driver can indeed be arrested and charged with a DUI if he or she has ingested or smoked marijuana, gets behind the wheel, and is deemed or found to be impaired.
Q: If driving under the influence of marijuana can lead to a DUI arrest, is there a chemical test that is given, or some other test that has to be taken?
-J.H. San Gabriel
A: If an individual is arrested for driving under the influence, he or she must be provided the choice of either a DUI breath test, or a DUI blood test.  Typically a driver chooses a breath test since it is less invasive. That said, if marijuana use is suspected, the driver may be required to take a blood test, even if the driver chose a breath test instead. This additional testing can only be requested if the officer reasonably believes that the driver is in fact under the influence of marijuana or another drug, and that the test will reveal the presence thereof.
Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 35 years of experience. His column, which appears on in print on Wednesdays, presents a summary of the law and should not be construed as legal advice. Email questions and comments to him at RonSEsq@aol.com or write to him at Ask the Lawyer, Daily Breeze, 21250 Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 170, Torrance, CA 90503.

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