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Voters Still Debating Over Legalizing Cannabis In Florida
Over the last decade or so, there has been a significant shift in attitudes toward marijuana among U.S. residents, with data from the Pew Research Center finding only 1 in 10 respondents stating that marijuana should remain illegal in all situations. That said, U.S. federal lawmakers have shown a distinct lack of enthusiasm for legalizing cannabis federally, and many states – including Florida – still prosecute people for possessing cannabis for recreational purposes. However, voters in the Sunshine State could be voting to legalize recreational cannabis as early as November 2024.
Cannabis Still Seen As Highly Dangerous
In general, Florida’s drug policy is considered harsh compared to those in other U.S. states; this is at least partly because of the area’s past as a cartel battleground during the 1970s and 80s, and as a “pill mill” mecca in the 1990s-2000s. Addiction issues are prevalent in Florida, and while evidence does exist that most cannabis users do not go on to try harder drugs, the state’s tendency has been to treat all scheduled substances as potentially dangerous, for good or ill. Florida treats simple possession of cannabis as a misdemeanor, but other drug charges are usually charged as felonies.
Cannabis is currently a Schedule I drug on both Florida and the federal register, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, but activists – and even some lawmakers – consider this definition archaic, given the documented successes in treating conditions like chronic pain with CBD and/or THC. There have been some rumblings at the federal level about potentially reclassifying the drug to a lower schedule as long as the science bears out doing so – but in Florida, no movement on this issue has occurred in recent years.
Potential Mandatory Minimum Sentence
Activists in Florida keep attempting to put a measure on the ballot in election years that would either legalize recreational cannabis or at least significantly reduce the penalties for possession. However, in 2021, the Florida Supreme Court rejected ballot initiatives, arguing that they were not sufficient to go before the voters as written. It remains to be seen what the form of a new cannabis initiative will look like, but in the meantime, the state’s harsh law remains in effect.
In the meantime, if you have been charged with possession of cannabis, it is important to know your rights. If you are found with less than 20 grams, the charge is more likely to be a misdemeanor; over 20 grams and you will almost certainly be charged with a felony, which can carry a mandatory minimum of 3 years in jail. It is crucial that you enlist a knowledgeable attorney, who can ensure your rights are protected.
Call A West Palm Beach Drug Possession Attorney
While one might hope that Florida voters legalize cannabis in 2024, the law remains in force for now, and the penalties for possession are stiff. A West Palm Beach drug possession attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help you navigate the legal process, and answer any questions you might have. Contact our office today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.