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Floridians Divided Over President’s Pardon For Cases Of Simple Possession
In early October 2022, President Biden announced his intention to pardon those convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law. While the pardon only affects approximately 6,500 people nationwide (since most people who are convicted of marijuana-related crimes are found guilty under state laws), it is still a significant step that many see as edging toward national legalization. In Florida, where drug laws are strict and sentences are long, the move has created some controversy, but the state’s law remains unchanged.
Simple Possession Is An Individualized Crime
There are three main categories of marijuana crimes: possession, distribution, and trafficking. Within these categories there are several different offenses of varying severity. Simple possession is one of the least serious offenses, recognized in both state and federal law, because it is seen as an individual’s crime. “Simple” possession is the offense of possessing a small amount of a controlled substance for one’s own personal use – in other words, the person has no intent to sell or otherwise distribute the drugs.
It is worth noting that in both Florida and federal law, the difference between a charge of simple possession and a charge of possession with intent to sell or distribute is the amount of the controlled substance in question. For example, if someone is stopped while possessing less than 20 grams of cannabis in Florida, they will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor; such a small amount does not imply any intent to sell. However, if someone is found with more than 25 pounds of cannabis, they will be charged with trafficking because that amount is far too large for personal use.
Take The Charge Seriously
President Biden’s choice to pardon those convicted of simple possession charges may seem like a mere sop to those who seek to legalize marijuana, given how comparatively few people it reaches, and many Floridians see it as an overreach of power, arguing that those convicted of crimes should serve the time to which they were sentenced. However, a pardon may be the difference between successful reintegration and recidivism for many – ex-convicts suffer disproportionate discrimination in hiring and housing, which can affect their ability to support themselves.
If you have been convicted of simple possession under federal law, you likely have a new lease on life – but if you are facing simple possession charges under Florida law, know that the pardon will not apply to you, and a conviction should still be taken very seriously. You may face up to a year in jail, plus fines and court costs, and depending on the substance involved, simple possession can be a felony – you can be denied your right to vote. Finding an experienced attorney to help with your case is crucial.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Possession Lawyer
For the people affected by President Biden’s pardon, this is a new day – but for those facing charges under Florida law, having experienced legal help is a must. A West Palm Beach drug crimes lawyer from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help ensure your rights are protected in court. Call our office today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.