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State & Local Legal Consequences

Social Host Accountability Ordinances

Unsupervised parties and gatherings at homes of students involving unfortunate incidents resulting from binge drinking and other drug use continue to be a problem. Emergency room visits, property damage, violence and auto accidents are not uncommon. Parents and their teens should be aware of the Social Host Accountability Ordinances in effect in towns, cities and municipalities throughout Marin County.


Although specific ordinances vary depending on where you reside, in general, it is unlawful to host 

a party or gathering of two or more minors at a residence or other private property or a place under your control such as a "party bus" where 

alcoholic beverages, cannabis or other controlled substances are possessed or consumed by one of more minors (under 21 years of age). A violation of these ordinances may be enforced as a misdemeanor criminal offense and/or may be subject to an administrative penalty, payable by a fine ranging from $750-$2,500 for each violation.

Additional Legal Consequences for Adults

California is quite strict about adults providing alcohol, marijuana and other drugs to minors. Adults can be charged with a misdemeanor under California law for "furnishing" alcohol, marijuana or other drugs to a minor (giving these substances to or purchasing them for a minor). Violating this law subjects the adult to significant jail time and a fine of up to $1,000. 

An adult who is found to "give" (not sell) marijuana to a minor who is 14 years or older can spend 3, 4 or 5 years in state prison. An adult who is found to sell marijuana to a minor of any age, induce a minor of any age to use, or give or offer marijuana to a minor under 14 years old, can spend a 3-, 5- or
7-year term even if the adult reasonably, believed the minor to be 18 years old (this is only a defense to inducing to use).


An adult can also be charged with "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" (actions which cause a minor to behave illegally) which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. This is a misdemeanor and applies to an adult who sells, gives, offers or induces a minor to use.

Finally, if an adult serves alcohol, marijuana or other drugs to a minor, and the minor sustains any injuries or dies while under the influence, the adult can be held civilly liable if these substances are the proximate because of death.

Note that youth who are 18 years old and above are considered adults under the law.

Additional Legal Consequences for Teens

In addition to social host citations, teens can also suffer legal consequences for underage 

possession (in a public place), consumption of, purchase or public intoxication under “minor in possession”, “open container” and other laws. These consequences can be in the form of infractions with fines or misdemeanors. Misdemeanors potentially have to be disclosed
in college applications. 
For marijuana, adults ages

18-21 years old will face a $100 fine for an infraction. For youth, those under 18 years old will be able to get counseling or community service in lieu of a fine.


For marijuana, adults and youth over 18 years old who possess over 28.5 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis can be convicted of a misdemeanor with consequences of up to 6 months in county jail and up to a $500 fine. If the youth is under 18 years old, it is considered to be an infraction with drug counseling and community service.
Additionally, teens under the age of 21 cannot drive with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01% or higher. Even if teens are nowhere near a car, they still can have their driver’s licenses suspended, restricted or delayed for up to one year for each offense related to the possession, consumption or purchase of alcohol. There is no specific threshold amount for marijuana and instead driving under the influence is determined by a roadside sobriety test.

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