According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a government agency, “scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Continue research may lead to more medications.”
The NIDA continues, “Because the marijuana plant contains chemicals that may help treat a range of illnesses and symptoms, many people argue that it should be legal for medical purposes.” Increasingly, more (and more) states are either relaxing their marijuana laws, or they are legalizing possession of a small amount of pot for recreational purposes.
According to drugpolicy.org, today there is more public support for marijuana legalization than ever before in the United States. As of this writing, adult use of marijuana is legal in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Maine, and Massachusetts. See a map of where marijuana is legal here.
What Are Florida’s Marijuana Laws?
Florida has legalized medical marijuana, but it has NOT legalized pot for recreational use. In order for a patient to use marijuana legally for medical purposes, they must possess a “physician’s recommendation,” plus they must obtain their medical marijuana from a state- licensed dispensary.
Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana include but are not limited to: cancer, PTSD, seizures, terminal illness, epilepsy, glaucoma, ALS, Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease among others.
“What does the law say about possessing marijuana for recreational use? If I’m caught with less than an ounce, what’s the penalty?” Unfortunately, Florida still criminalized marijuana possession, even if it’s for recreational purposes. Here is a breakdown of the marijuana penalties in Florida:
Possession of Marijuana
- Possessing 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and by a fine not to exceed $1,000.
- Possession of more than 20 grams to 25 pounds is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $5,000.
- Possessing more than 25 pounds to less than 2000 pounds is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $25,000.
- Giving away 20 grams or less of marijuana without being compensated is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and by a maximum $1,000 fine.
- Selling 25 pounds or less is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $5,000.
- Selling 25 pounds to less than 2,000 pounds is a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $25,000.
If you’re caught possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana, you face a maximum one-year sentence and a maximum fine of $1,000. On the other hand, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $5,000. These are the penalties that most Florida defendants face in regards to marijuana-related charges.
What is Drug Court?
If you’re facing drug charges for the first time, we’d like to discuss the possibility of Drug Court. According to the Florida Courts, “Since the nation’s first drug court was established in 1989 in Miami-Dade County, the concept of a non-adversarial court-based approach to helping people break the cycle of addiction and improve their lives through treatment and accountability has become a national and international trend in criminal justice.”
One such Drug Court is the Adult Drug Pretrial Intervention Court, which allows first-time drug offenders to avoid the stigma of a felony conviction. If a defendant is eligible, he or she signs a written contract agreeing to successfully complete a drug treatment program. Once the defendant completes the program, the State’s Attorney’s Office drops the felony charges against the offender. In the face of felony drug charges, clearly this is the favorable alternative to a traditional prosecution.