Recreational Marijuana Is Still Illegal In Florida
The 2020 election saw five more U.S. states legalize marijuana in some form, with New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota, and Montana approving recreational use (only for those over age 21 in New Jersey), and South Dakota and Mississippi legalizing the drug for medical use. As of this writing, this means that 15 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana recreationally, with another 16 decriminalizing it, with still more permitting it for medical use. However, it is still crucial to remember that in Florida, recreational use of marijuana is illegal and can land you in court, or even in jail if the situation is serious enough.
Possession Charges Apply
Marijuana is legal in Florida for medicinal usage, provided that a person meets the specific requirements to get a medical card – namely, being a permanent or seasonal Florida resident, and being diagnosed with a ‘qualifying’ medical condition by a physician who has completed the appropriate training. However, even medicinal patients can only use marijuana under very specific circumstances, and even they can be charged with possession if they have too much in their possession or use it in an unsanctioned manner.
If you are stopped with marijuana on you and you are not a medical patient, you can be charged with possession, though the degree will differ depending on the amount in question. For example, possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, plus fines and court costs – but possession of, say, 30 grams is a third-degree felony, which carries up to 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation, plus a $5,000 fine and court costs.
While possession charges can be serious, trafficking charges are far worse, and you can be charged with trafficking even if you had no intent to sell drugs – the amount in question is what may trigger the greater charge. Florida law allows you to be charged with trafficking if you are caught in possession of very large amounts – in the case of cannabis, any kind of marijuana product in excess of 25 pounds will earn you at least a 3-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine, with the maximum possible being 15 years and a $200,000 fine for truly enormous amounts.
While those charged with trafficking do not generally get any kind of deal or leniency from Florida states’ attorneys, those for whom this is their first offense can sometimes reach an agreement with prosecutors for an alternative to jail time; for example, pretrial diversion programs like Drug Court can help those caught with drugs to receive addiction treatment and management, instead of the punishment of jail. This is not granted to everyone, and if you fail to attend or otherwise make mistakes in the program, a jail sentence can be imposed – but it is nonetheless worth trying for, especially if you truly want to have nothing more to do with drugs.
Call A West Palm Beach Drug Crimes Attorney
While the push to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida continues, it has not yet happened. If you are stopped with marijuana on your person, and face possession charges, you need a West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. to ensure that your rights are protected in going through the criminal process. Contact our offices today to speak to an attorney.