“Cultivation” Charges In Florida
Slowly but surely, marijuana is becoming legal in more and more U.S. states, both for medicinal and recreational use. It is still illegal in Florida for non-medical use, but despite this, many Floridians try to grow cannabis in their homes, either for personal use or for sale. Despite it being legal for medical users in some other states to grow certain amounts of cannabis at home, it is illegal in Florida, with no exceptions. Cultivation of marijuana plants is a crime in the Sunshine State, and if you are caught doing it, the penalties can be stiff.
Offenses Against Society
Florida state law explicitly prohibits a person from “manufacturing” or “cultivating” drugs, and “[extracting] from substances of natural origin” falls under that definition, as does ‘chemical synthesis.’ In other words, growing and cultivating marijuana via basically any means is against state law, even if one is a licensed medical marijuana user. The reason for such a blanket prohibition is that Florida has a long history with illegal drugs, from cartels in the 1990s to the ‘pill mills’ of later years, with the accompanying rise in crime and overdose deaths. Drug crimes are seen as offenses against society.
Something important to keep in mind in these types of cases is that in Florida, specific intent is not required for crimes like possession with intent to sell. In general, if you are in possession of a large enough amount of a certain drug, a state’s attorney can infer that you intended to sell it, whether you actually did or not. If you are found with more than 25 cannabis plants, for example, it is ‘prima facie’ evidence that you intended to sell them, and can be charged with higher crimes than simple possession.
Potential Consequences Are Serious
While simple possession of marijuana under 20 grams is a misdemeanor in Florida, cultivating the plant at home is almost invariably a third-degree felony, which carries up to 5 years in jail, plus assorted fines and costs. In addition to any criminal penalties you incur if convicted, your driver’s license may be suspended on conviction, as well as other administrative actions that can harm your overall quality of life. If your ‘grow house’ is within 1,000 feet of certain properties like schools or churches, the charge may even be upgraded to a second-degree felony.
It is possible in some situations to defend oneself against these charges, but an experienced attorney can be of great help in doing so. Many defenses stem from arguing that the search of your premises was unlawful – overbroad, without probable cause, or otherwise defective. If it can be established that law enforcement did not use proper procedure, any evidence they obtained during their search will be inadmissible. However, each case is different.
Contact A West Palm Beach Grow House Attorney
If you are illegally growing cannabis, know that you will be found out sooner or later, and when you are, you will need a knowledgeable attorney to help you fight the charges. A West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help ensure that your rights are protected as you go through the legal process. Contact our office today at 561-721-0552 for a free consultation.