What Drugs are Prohibited in Florida?

Florida has strict criminal laws prohibiting the possession, manufacture, and distribution of hundreds of different drugs. Drug laws across the U.S. are the subject of widespread debate between those who think treatment for substance use disorder or addiction should be prioritized instead of punishment and those who think more police and longer prison sentences will solve the problems associated with illegal drug use.  

We want all our clients to fully understand how Florida’s drug laws work, which drugs are prohibited, as well as what conduct will expose them to the highest penalties. 



Illegal Drug Categories in Florida 


Many drugs are illegal without a prescription from a doctor that the federal government and every state has separated them into categories depending on two factors: 


  • How addictive or prone to abuse the drug is 
  • Whether the drug has any accepted medicinal use 


Florida law refers to the categories as schedules and defines each schedule like this:


  • Schedule I — a high potential for abuse and has no currently accepted medical use in treatment               in the United States and in its use under medical supervision does not meet accepted safety standards, 
  • Schedule II — a high potential for abuse and has a currently accepted but severely restricted medical use in treatment, and abuse of the substance may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence, 
  • Schedule III — potential for abuse less than the substances contained in Schedules I and II and has a currently accepted medical use in treatment, 
  • Schedule IV —  a low potential for abuse relative to the substances in Schedule III and has a currently accepted medical use in treatment . . . , 
  • Schedule V —  a low potential for abuse relative to the substances in Schedule IV and has a currently accepted medical use in treatment . . .  


Florida Illegal Drugs and Penalties 


The criminal penalties for possessing, selling, or trafficking the prohibited drugs in the schedules described above range relatively minor to extremely severe. The penalties associated with drug offenses depend partly on the quantity of the drugs involved, the nature of the drug, and its perceived danger as indicated by the schedule listing the drug.  

The drug schedules were established in 1970 and have not had any significant changes since 1990 when anabolic steroids were added to Schedule III.  


Commonly Charged Drugs in Schedule I: 


Heroin – Ecstasy – LSD – cannabis (and less common peyote and Methaqualone [a.k.a. quaalude] 

  • Heroin or any Sched. I drug possession in Florida is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine, 
  • Sale, manufacture, or delivery of Sched. I drug, or possession with intent to do so is a second-degree felony with a maximum punishment of up to 15 years in prison or a $15,000 fine, 
  • Trafficking in a Sched. I drug in Florida involves dealing with larger quantities of the substance and is penalized according to the metric weight of the drugs: 

-More than 4 grams and under 14 grams (= ½ ounce) carries up to 3 years in prison 

-From 14 grams to 28 grams (= ½ ounce to 1 ounce) carries up to 15 years in prison 

-From 28 grams to 30kilograms (= 1 ounce to 66 pounds) is punishable by up to 25 years in prison 

-More than 30 kgs. (66 pounds) can result in life in prison. 

  • Trafficking offenses also can impose fines of $50,000, $100,000, or $500,000 respectively. 


Commonly Charged Drugs in Schedule II: 


Fentanylcocaine – oxycodone – Adderall – methamphetamine – Vicodin (hydrocodone) – opium – codeine – Ritalin – Dexedrine  

  • Cocaine, fentanyl, or any other Sched. II controlled substance possession in Florida is a second-degree felony. As with Sched. I drugs, the penalty for simple possession (personal use) of any Sched. II drug can be up to 5 years in prison. 

(Fentanyl is especially dangerous and any amount of fentanyl, even when mixed with any other drug, has resulted in 5,302 deaths in Florida in 2019, more than twice those caused by cocaine according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission report of 2020.) 

  • Possession of more than 1 ounce of cocaine (28 grams) is charged as the first-degree felony of  trafficking in Florida. Since trafficking penalties are tied to the quantities involved in the offense, the potential penalties are as follows: 

-From 28 grams (1 oz.) to 200 grams (7 oz) carries a 3-year prison sentence, 

-From 200 grams to 400 grams (14 oz) can result in a 7-year prison sentence, 

-From 400 grams to 150 kilograms (330 lbs.) could bring 15 years in prison, and 

-More than 150 kilograms is punishable by up to life in prison. 

  • Again, as with Schedule I, Schedule II trafficking crimes include the potential for fines ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 to $500,000 respectively. 


Commonly Charged Drugs in Schedule III: 


Ketamine – anabolic steroids – testosterone – Tylenol with codeine 

  • Possessing a Schedule III drug in Florida is a third-degree felony and can be punishable by a 5-year prison sentence of a $5,000 fine.  
  • As with drugs listed in other Schedules, selling, distributing, manufacturing, possession with intent to do any of those offenses, or trafficking Schedule III controlled substances carry higher penalties, longer prison sentences, and exceptionally large fines.   


Commonly Charged Drugs in Schedule IV: 


Valium – Tramadol – Xanax – Ativan – Ambien – Darvon – Darvocet  

Though listed in Schedule IV, possession of these and other Sched. IV listed drugs are still prosecuted vigorously.  

  • Possession of any Sched. IV drug, like others shown above is charged as a third-degree felony in Florida with up to a 5-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. 
  • Similarly, offenses involving the sale, manufacture, distribution, possession with intent to so, or trafficking carry the enhanced penalties detailed in the earlier Schedules above. 


Commonly Charged Drugs in Schedule V: 


Liquid Tylenol with codeine – other cough preparations with no more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams (Robitussin AC, Phenergan with codeine) –  Gabapentin 

Because of the low potential for abuse of Schedule V controlled substances, possession of one of these drugs is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida with a penalty limited to one year in prison and a fine of $1,000. 


What About Marijuana? 


Although both the federal law and Florida’s controlled substance statute still list marijuana as a Schedule I Drug, which by definition “has no currently accepted medical use,” Florida law now permits the possession and use of “medical marijuana” under strict conditions. This contradiction means that some defendants may still face harsh sentences for possessing, manufacturing, or delivering illegal quantities of marijuana.  

As of January 2022, there were 658,380 registered medical marijuana cardholders. Registered cardholders may possess up to four ounces of herbal marijuana but are not allowed to do any of the following: 

  • share their medical marijuana, even with another registered cardholder,  
  • possess or medicate with it in public,  
  • cross state lines with their medical marijuana, even to another state where medical marijuana is legal,  
  • purchase their marijuana anywhere but from a licensed dispensary. 

Violation of the drug laws with marijuana can still result in the following penalties: 

  • Possession of under 20 grams ( .71 of an oz, less than ¾ oz) is a first-degree misdemeanor with up to 1-year incarceration and a $1,000 fine, and revoked driver’s license for one year. 
  • Possessing between 20 grams and 25 lbs. carries 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Significantly increased penalties apply as the quantity involved increases. Ultimately, having more than 10,000 lbs. may result in a 30-year prison sentence. 
  • Delivering 20 grams or less without any compensation is a 1-year misdemeanor ($1,000 fine), 
  • Selling any amount less than 25 lbs. is a felony carrying up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine) 

(Sentences continue to increase with amounts climbing to a penalty between 15 and 30 years in prison for amounts more than 10,000 lbs.) 


Charged with a Drug Offense? 


At Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law, defending people accused of drug-related and other crimes is the focus of our legal practice. As Tampa’s certified criminal defense law firm, we use our years of extensive experience to fight for our neighbors’ rights and to preserve your liberty when police and prosecutors bring felony or misdemeanor drug charges against you or your family members. 

Call us today for a case review: 813-280-1244 

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