Marijuana is still listed as a Schedule I Controlled Substance by state and federal law enforcement authorities. Whether justified or not, marijuana remains in a category defined as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Florida criminalizes the possession, sale, distribution, and trafficking of marijuana in all but a few very limited circumstances relating to medical marijuana.
What’s Legal Marijuana in Florida?
The only legal possession of marijuana in the state of Florida is very heavily regulated and tightly controlled. Medical marijuana cardholders may possess up to four ounces of herbal cannabis if their physician certifies that the “benefits of smoking marijuana for medical use outweigh the risks for the qualified patient.” The marijuana buds or flowers must be purchased only from a state-licensed dispensary either by the cardholder or their caregiver.
Medical Marijuana Law Violations: Any certified Florida medical marijuana care holder can still violate the law if they engage in any of the following conduct:
- cross state lines in possession of even medical marijuana
- give their medical marijuana to anyone, even another card holder
- use a high THC product (e.g., smoke marijuana) in a public place
- purchase or obtain marijuana anywhere but from a licensed dispensary
- grow or cultivate marijuana at home.
What’s Illegal Marijuana in Florida?
Possession of Marijuana remains illegal in Florida except as described above in the medical marijuana section of this blog post. The penalties vary in severity depending on the amount of marijuana involved in the alleged crime:
- Possession of Marijuana
-less than 20 grams (less than 3/4 of an ounce) is a 1st-degree misdemeanor carrying up to 1-year incarceration and up to a $1,000 fine;
-more than 20 grams is a 3rd-degree felony with 5 years in prison term and a $5,000 fine
Constructive Possession — Possession of marijuana may be prosecuted whether you have the marijuana in your physical possession or your “constructive possession.” Constructive possession means that you can exercise dominion and control over an illegal substance even though it may be miles away from your current location. For example, if you knowingly have a pound of marijuana in a package stored in the trunk of your car parked in a friend’s driveway, the fact that you own the car and have the keys to access the package puts you in “constructive possession.”
Joint Possession — The law also permits you to be prosecuted when you jointly possess marijuana, either physically or constructively. An example would be when two roommates or a married couple know the marijuana is in the closet and they can both freely control it, even if neither one is at home.
Selling, Manufacturing, or Possessing Marijuana with Intent to Manufacture or Sell — The law recognizes a big difference between possessing a small amount of marijuana for personal use and selling it for profit. While illegal, the first is considered by many people to be a relatively harmless misdemeanor. Selling or growing (manufacturing) marijuana is perceived by the law as exploitation of others for profit. Penalties associated with these activities reflect the government’s serious commitment to stopping the trade in all illegal drugs, including marijuana.
- Sale, Manufacture, or Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Do So
-any amount – a 3rd-degree felony with up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
Selling, manufacturing, or possessing marijuana under the following circumstances increases the offense level to a 2nd-degree felony carrying up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine within 1,000 feet of these locations:
- Elementary, middle, or secondary school before midnight or after 6:00 am
- College or university
- A public park or recreational facility
- Childcare facility
- Community center (a facility operated by a nonprofit community-based organization for the provision of recreational, social, or educational services to the public)
- Place of worship
- Convenience store (business primarily selling groceries and/or gasoline)
- Public housing facility
Delivery of Marijuana — Delivering marijuana is a criminal offense even if you are not paid. If you are picking up less than 20 grams of marijuana for a friend or a sibling, then give it to them for free, you committed a first-degree misdemeanor that carries up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Delivery to a Minor — Selling any marijuana to minors is an especially serious offense, no matter how little an amount of marijuana is involved. How serious? The maximum penalty is that of a 2nd-degree felony; as much as 15 years in state prison and up to a $10,000 maximum fine.
Trafficking Cannabis — Big Time Marijuana Dealing
Anyone who sells, manufactures, distributes, or transports into Florida for one of those purposes more than 300 marijuana plants or 25 pounds of processed marijuana is guilty of a 1st-degree felony. The penalty for a 1st-degree felony is up to 30 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Committing those same acts involving more than 25 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds will result in a minimum prison sentence of 3 years and a $25,000 fine. As the amounts of either processed marijuana or the number of plants involved in the crime increase, so too do the mandatory minimum penalties, from a minimum of 3 years in prison to a mandatory minimum of 7 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Finally, when the amounts of marijuana involved in the offense exceed 10,000 pounds or 10,000 plants, no less than 15 years in prison can be imposed. At this level, the fine is at least $200,000.
Defending Marijuana Charges in Florida
The marijuana-related charges that can be criminally prosecuted in Florida are more numerous and nuanced than are within the scope of this blog post. Only experienced marijuana defense lawyers with extensive experience fighting for people accused of violating the law have the deep understanding of the law needed to win your case.
At Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law, our professional careers as criminal defense lawyers are committed to the defense of the accused, believing in their right to prevail against unlawful searches or other improper police procedures. The law insists that the government prove every single element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is our mission to ensure that any evidence or lack of evidence that may raise a reasonable doubt is aggressively put forward in defense of our clients.
Trust our experience at Stechschulte Nell. Tampa’s Marijuana Defense Lawyers Call 813-280-1244 for a case review today.