We know that if we don’t wear our seat belts or we’re caught texting and driving that we’re at risk for getting a ticket. Now that marijuana is legal in California, you can add it to the list of reasons you could receive some kind of penalty while driving with it. However, it’s a common assumption that illegally transporting marijuana for sale is only an infraction and carries no jail time. But that isn’t exactly the case. If you’re a transporter of cannabis products, are you sure you’re doing it legally?
If you don’t have the right license to transport cannabis for sale in California, you could receive a penalty that includes jail time. First, it’s important to understand the different types of crimes.
What is a felony?
A felony in California is a crime that carries a maximum sentence of more than one year in jail or prison and could also result in a fine of up to $10,000. For example, first degree burglary or murder.
What is an infraction?
Infractions are usually a public offense, but not a crime and not punishable by imprisonment. Any person convicted of an infraction is typically punished with a fine or disqualification (such as losing your license). For example, if you’re pulled over for speeding or don’t yield to a pedestrian.
What is a misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor falls somewhere in the middle. It’s more serious than an infraction but less serious than a felony. In California, a misdemeanor is defined as a crime for which the maximum sentence is no more than one year in county jail. For example, shoplifting, a DUI without injury – or the illegal transport of marijuana.
That’s right! This is where the transport of marijuana comes in. If you illegally transport cannabis for sale, the misdemeanor penalties are up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
So how do you make sure you’re transporting legally?
Even though the sale of recreational use of cannabis (marijuana) for businesses licensed to sell became legal in California on January 1, 2018, under the law – known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act – adults age 21 and over can legally possess and use small amounts of marijuana.
However, the California Health and Safety Code (11360) still prohibits selling, giving away, importing into the state or transporting for sale any amount of marijuana without a state license, and any other local licenses.
The big difference is the licensing. You can stay legal by making sure you have the right license(s) if you’re transporting cannabis for sale. Here are a few important tips to note:
- Anyone transporting cannabis for sale must hold a distributor license or be an employee or contractor of a licensed distributor.
- You must also have a motor carrier permit.
- The licensee, anyone employed by the licensee or acting on behalf of the licensee, must wear a laminated or plastic-coated identification badge whenever they are engaging in commercial cannabis activity. The ID badge must include the licensee’s “doing business as” name and license number, employee’s first name, assigned employee number, and a color photograph of the employee.
To sum up, if you illegally transport cannabis for sale, you could be punished by receiving an infraction (such as a fine, but no jail time) OR a misdemeanor – which can include time in a county jail for no more than 6 months – or BOTH!
Make sure you have the right licenses, and are staying informed of any changes in the industry, so you don’t make the mistake of putting yourself at risk.
Transporting cannabis products safely and legally is critical to the success of your business. With the new California regulations in place, secure transport is crucial to stay compliant and avoid getting ticketed – or even worse – losing your license.
You should be able to transport your products with confidence, not worrying about the proverbial “lights in your rear-view mirror.”
Nor Cal Vans designs and builds transportation solutions that change people’s lives. We offer new and used secure transport van conversion options for the safe and legal transport of your product. We’ve been solving transportation needs for nearly four decades and strive to hold true to our values of teamwork, trust, accountability, growth and a positive attitude.