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California Drug Cultivation and Manufacturing Laws

Last updated 11/18/2019

In general, it's a crime to manufacture controlled substances and illegal drugs in California. However, the cultivation of marijuana, within certain limits, is allowed for personal use. The criminal charges related to the cultivation or manufacturing of drugs depend on the type of drug.

Under California's marijuana laws, it's legal for adults 21 and older to purchase, possess, and consume up to 28.5 grams of marijuana in their home or in a place that is licensed for marijuana consumption. However, certain marijuana-related activities are still criminalized under California state laws, such as smoking marijuana in public or selling it without a license. In 1996, it became legal to plant, grow, cultivate, harvest, and prepare marijuana plants with a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana. This was greatly expanded when voters approved a ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana, which allows adults 21 and older to grow up to six plants on their property as long as it's in a secure location not visible to the public.

California state laws also prohibit the manufacturing and processing of illegal controlled substances and dangerous drugs listed by the California Penal Code. These include cocaine base, cocaine, hallucinogenic drugs, opium, and many others. Anyone who manufactures one of the listed drugs may be prosecuted on felony charges by the state.

In California, it's also unlawful to possess specified chemicals used as ingredients in drug manufacturing. For example, state laws criminalize the possession of chemicals used to manufacture phencyclidine (PCP) and methamphetamine. If a prosecutor can show that the defendant possessed those chemicals with an intent to manufacture PCP or methamphetamine, the defendant may be found guilty of a felony under state law.

California Drug Cultivation and Manufacturing Laws Overview

Below you'll find key provisions of drug cultivation and manufacturing laws in California.


California Health and Safety Code Sections 11350-11392 et. seq. (Uniform Controlled Substances Act)

Business & Professions Code Sections 26000, et seq. (Marijuana)

Senate Bill No. 185, Chapter 841 ( An act to amend Sections 26001 and 26063 of the Business and Professions Code, relating to cannabis.) 


  • Manufacturing of a controlled substance or illegal drug may be punished by felony sentencing. A conviction may result in a fine of up to $50,000 and imprisonment for a term of three, five, or seven years in state prison. The prosecutor may also request enhanced sentencing based on the defendant's prior or current criminal record.
  • Possession of chemicals or compounds used to manufacture specified drugs, including PCP or methamphetamine, may result in a sentence of two, four, or six years in state prison. The prosecutor can also look at the defendant's prior criminal history and past offenses related to drug manufacturing.
  • The penalties for cultivating marijuana without complying with state laws, will depend on the age of the defendant and where he or she has prior convictions.

Possible Defenses

  • Defendant is over the age of 21 and cultivating marijuana within the stated regulations.
  • Defendant has doctor's oral or written recommendation for medical marijuana.
  • Defendant is the caregiver of a patient who has received a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana.
  • Defendant has a state-issued license for drug manufacturing or a permit for the defendant to possess specific chemicals.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

California Drug Cultivation and Manufacturing: Related Resources

For more information related to this topic, you can click on the following links:

Get Legal Help With Your California Drug Cultivation and Manufacturing Issue

The topic of drug laws and regulations in California is extremely controversial, with some groups advocating for a complete ban on all intoxicating substances, while others argue for legalization, believing that the state has no business regulating "victimless" crimes. Regardless, if you're accused of illegal drug cultivation you could be facing significant penalties and should consider reaching out to an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area to protect your rights.

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