11377(a) of the Health and Safety Code is a "wobbler" - meaning it can be charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor. As a felony, the maximum is 3 years state prison. As a misdemeanor, the maximum is one year county jail.
Those are just the maximums.
As a first time offender, however, he should be eligible for a drug diversion program under Penal Code section 1000. With that, he would complete a series of classes, stay out of trouble for 18 months and end up with a dismissal.
All that can change if he has any additional charges against him or has a prior record you don't know about. He still needs criminal representation, however. His attorney can explore the diversion, but can also determine if the arrest, search and charges are legal and supported by the evidence.
He'll be eligible for drug diversion (assuming a first offense). Upon successful completion, the charge will be dismissed. Its important he attend all the classes and obtain that dismissal. With a drug conviction on his record, it will had adverse consequences for purposes of employment applications, etc. Best Regards,
Judith M. Fouladi, Esq.