The marijuana industry is big. It seems like there are dispensaries popping up all over the place, with big names like MedMen vying for Florida licenses. And while this visibility may bode well for the industry, for many people, it can be confusing. The ubiquity of marijuana can make it seem like it’s no big deal to carry some flower or a vape cartridge with you. However, doing so could land you in deep legal trouble—even if you have a prescription.
Is Marijuana Legal in Florida?
Currently, medical marijuana is legal in Florida. However, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug under both state and federal law. The recreational use, possession, or sale of marijuana remains illegal.
Individuals who receive a recommendation from their physician to treat their qualifying condition with medical marijuana may possess 2.5 ounces of flower or its equivalent in other forms. If you have a medical marijuana card, note that it is not a free pass. Because all forms of marijuana are illegal at the federal level, taking your medication onto federal land, crossing state lines with it, or attempting to board a plane with marijuana can all lead to federal drug charges. In addition, you may encounter difficulties during a routine traffic stop. To protect yourself, if you are transporting marijuana, keep it in your trunk and make sure you have your medical marijuana card and physician’s recommendation with you.
While activists are working on getting recreational marijuana use legalized in Florida, if and when that happens, there will still be restrictions on marijuana use. Individuals will be limited to possessing a certain amount of cannabis product and smoking or using marijuana will likely be limited to private residences. Until then, there is no “safe” amount of marijuana to possess.
What About Decriminalization?
Certain cities and areas around the state have passed legislation to decriminalize marijuana. However, this is not the same as legalization. In jurisdictions that have decriminalized marijuana, such as Miami-Dade, Tampa, and Orlando, officers may choose to write a citation and issue a fine for possession of small amounts of marijuana (less than 20 grams) rather than arresting and charging an individual. Depending on your location, however, this may be at the officer’s discretion. For example, despite Tampa’s decriminalization in 2016, Hillsborough County officers continued to arrest those caught in possession.
Ultimately, until legalization or decriminalization becomes a statewide mandate, it is unwise to be in possession of any amount of a restricted substance or of drug paraphernalia.
Marijuana Drug Charges in Florida
If you are found to be in possession of marijuana in Florida, you can be charged with the following offenses, which range in seriousness.
Possession of Marijuana in Florida
Generally, an individual found to be in possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana can be charged with a misdemeanor. Individuals found with 20 grams or more (up to 25 pounds) of marijuana can be charged with a felony, which is punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.
If you are found to be in possession of paraphernalia used to smoke or consume marijuana, you can be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Alternatively, you can be charged at the federal level depending on where you are stopped. For example, if you are stopped at a military base or at Everglades National Park, you will face federal charges. The federal justice system can be especially brutal, and those charged with federal drug charges face steep penalties.
In addition, if possession occurs in certain places, such as within 1,000 feet of a school, you may face stiffer penalties.
Trafficking in Cannabis
Trafficking charges are not necessarily about intent, but quantity. If you are in possession of 25 pounds or more of marijuana, or if you are selling or intending to sell marijuana, you can be charged with trafficking in cannabis. Trafficking charges are subject to the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, leaving those found guilty to serve long sentences for their crimes.
Trafficking in cannabis is a first degree felony. An individual found to be in possession of 25 pounds or more of cannabis or 300 cannabis plants faces a minimum of 3 years of imprisonment and a fine of $25,000. Having additional quantities can increase the severity of the punishment (see the table below).
|Amount of Cannabis||Penalty (Imprisonment and fine)|
|25 – 1,999 pounds or 300 – 1,999 plants||Minimum of 3 years and $25,000|
|2,000 – 9,999 pounds or 2,000 – 9,999 plants||Minimum of 7 years and $50,000|
|10,000 or more pounds or 10,000 or more plants||Minimum of 15 years and $200,000|
In addition to charges brought by the state, you may also be subject to federal charges, especially if you are found with marijuana on federal property, such as a federal park or a military base.
Keep in mind that this information is general—for specific information about your case, you need to speak to a qualified Tampa drug lawyer as soon as possible. All of these charges can impact your ability to get a job, secure credit, and find housing in the future. Don’t let this charge define you! Act now—contact a quality Tampa defense attorney immediately.
Charged with a Marijuana Offense?
If you’ve been charged with trafficking in cannabis or marijuana possession, it is crucial that you contact a Tampa defense attorney immediately. Too often minor drug charges get conflated into huge legal problems. And thanks to mandatory minimum sentences, they can also lead to long sentences that don’t equate to the crime.
Don’t let your life get sabotaged by overzealous prosecutors attempting to make a name for themselves. Hiring a Tampa defense attorney when you are charged—or if you think you may be charged—can help you mount a strong defense from the beginning. Don’t let the system get the best of you. Protect your rights and your future—call Mike G Law today.