If you have paid attention to the news in the last 10 or 15 years, you
may have noticed that marijuana has become a hot topic of debate. Currently,
marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, which means it’s been determined
to have “no acceptable medical use,” and a “high potential
Many scientists, medical experts, researchers, and doctors strongly disagree
that marijuana has
no acceptable medical use, and that it should be a Schedule I substance – right up there with
LSD and heroin! After all, there has been a growing body of science-backed
research that shows exactly the opposite.
National Institute on Drug Abuse, a government agency, says that there are two FDA-approved medications
that contain cannabinoids (chemicals in marijuana) and that “Continued
research my lead to more medications.” Today, medical marijuana
is used to treat numerous diseases and conditions, such as:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Mental disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neuropathic pain
- Alzheimer’s disease
With so many healthcare providers and researchers recognizing the medical
uses of marijuana, legislatures and voters across the country are taking
notice, and increasingly decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses.
decriminalization mean? It means that it’s treated much like an infraction, and there
is no arrest, no incarceration, and a very small fine (if any).
Where does Florida stand on marijuana?
As of this writing, 21 states have decriminalized possessing small amounts
of marijuana for personal use, including but not limited to: Delaware,
District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North
Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
If you notice, Florida is NOT on this list. That’s because Florida
has not decriminalized minor marijuana offenses, at least not yet. But,
Marijuana Policy Project is working hard to change that.
Since June of 2015, several cities and counties across the state have given
officers the authority to issue citations to people for possessing less
than 20 grams of marijuana, instead arresting them on the spot.
While this is a positive step in the right direction, many departments
say that they will continue arresting people for marijuana. So, the residents
of Florida shouldn’t get too excited or let their guard down when
it comes to possessing pot.
Until Florida lawmakers soften the state’s marijuana
possession laws, it’s still a crime to possess any amount of pot. The penalties
for marijuana possession in Florida are as follows:
Possessing 20 grams or less is a
misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, and up to one year in jail.
Possession of more than 20 grams to 25 pounds is a
felony, punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison.
- Possessing more than 25 pounds, but less than 2000 pounds is a felony,
punishable by up to 15 years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.
If you simply “give” marijuana away to someone else, you could
face misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to one year in jail, and up
to a $1,000 fine.
On the other hand, if you
sell 25 pounds or less, you commit a
felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, and by a maximum fine of $5,000.
So, even if you sell less than 20 grams of pot to someone else, you could
end up with a five year prison sentence.
Florida’s Diversion Programs for First-Time Offenders
Florida has diversion programs designed for first-time misdemeanor and
felony offenders who are willing to accept responsibility for their actions
and seek rehabilitation. Upon successful completion of one of these programs,
the offender escapes the stigma of a criminal record.
For example, the Felony Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTI) is administered
by the Florida Department of Corrections. Under the PTI program, first-time
felony offenders are given the opportunity to divert their case from the
trial court and avoid a criminal conviction. In order to qualify for this
program, the offender must have committed a qualifying third degree felony
that was nonviolent in nature.
A drug offender cannot participate in the felony
PTI program if they were caught possessing LSD, heroin, methamphetamine, or one-half
gram of cocaine or more.
Facing drug charges in Tampa?
Contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. for a free criminal defense consultation!