Is marijuana legal in Florida? As a law firm that provides criminal defense services, the Weinstein Legal Team hears this question frequently. With marijuana laws rapidly changing across the country, often varying between states, individuals may not know precisely where they stand in the eyes of the law.
Currently, marijuana is either fully or partially decriminalized in 26 states, but Florida is not one of them. While there are laws that allow for the use of medicinal marijuana, the guidelines are strict.
If you require criminal defense for illegal marijuana charges in the state of Florida, it is imperative that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Partner Matt Shafran at the Weinstein Legal Team, head of the criminal defense division, is an experienced drug crime lawyer with years of experience representing clients in court. A drug conviction can have a lasting impact on your life, even if it is for a misdemeanor charge. However, with proper legal representation, it may be possible to get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely, preserving your reputation and protecting your future.
Is Marijuana Legal in Florida?
Recreational marijuana possession and use are not legal in the state of Florida. However, Florida is one of the 33 states that does allow for prescribed, medicinal use of the drug with the proper license, registration, and doctor's orders. What this means is that it is currently illegal in the state of Florida to buy marijuana off the street or to use it without a doctor's supervision.
To obtain a license for medical marijuana, patients must go through a formal process. You must visit a state-certified doctor, receive a diagnosis for a condition approved by state law, and then file a formal application with the state, which comes with a fee.
As recreational marijuana is illegal in Florida, if you receive criminal charges, you may face steep consequences that include jail time, probation, and hefty fines. Additionally, if you receive charges for falsifying medical marijuana registration documents, you may face felony charges for fraud, and more. Do not take your chances in court alone. While many individuals think that a simple marijuana charge is not a big deal, it can impact your ability to find work, housing, and more, well into the future. You require an aggressive drug defense attorney to advocate on your behalf.
Recreational Cannabis in Florida
Recreation cannabis is illegal in the state of Florida, no matter what amount of marijuana you have at the time of arrest. This means that it is illegal to sell, buy, use, and possess the drug, no matter the circumstances if you do not have a medical marijuana registration card.
Penalties for Recreational Marijuana Charges
If law enforcement finds you in possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, you may face a misdemeanor drug possession charge. You may face up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines, as well as probation and a possible court order to complete a drug rehabilitation or counseling program.
Should law enforcement find you with more than 20 grams of marijuana, you may face a felony charge and up to five years in prison in addition to fines and other stipulations. And, if police officers arrest you for selling marijuana in a school zone, on a college campus, or within 1,000 feet of a community park, you may face felony distribution charges that can land you in prison for up to fifteen years. The sale of marijuana outside of one of these designated zones is still a felony charge, punishable by up to five years in prison.
As you can see, there are many nuances that determine the severity and possible consequences that accompany a criminal charge for the possession or sale of marijuana in Florida. For this reason, you need an experienced drug crime lawyer to defend you in court. While the answer to the question "is marijuana legal in Florida?" is no, there are many determining factors that impact what your possible sentencing may be. Having a criminal defense attorney on your side, working to protect your rights, is essential.
Medicinal Marijuana Laws in Florida
Medicinal marijuana is legal in Florida under State Amendment 2, which was signed into legislation in 2016. However, there are clear guidelines that state law sets forth regarding who qualifies to receive registration for medical marijuana and how they can go about getting legal marijuana for medicinal use.
Requirements for Receiving Medicinal Marijuana
In Florida, to be eligible for a medical marijuana card, one must have a qualifying medical condition. These include a variety of chronic and serious health issues such as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis, for example.
The law does state that certified doctors may recommend medicinal marijuana as a course of treatment to help manage symptoms in patients with other chronic diseases as long as they are deemed "debilitating" and "of the same kind or class" as the specific diagnoses noted by the law.
The next phase involves consulting with a certified physician who can assess whether medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment for your condition. If the physician agrees, they will register you in the Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry, which is a mandatory step before you can proceed with the application for a medical marijuana card.
Once registered, you must apply for the medical marijuana card through the Florida Department of Health. This involves submitting an application along with required documentation, such as proof of residency, identification, and a recent photo, as well as paying any applicable fees. After your application is reviewed and approved, you will receive your medical marijuana card, allowing you to legally buy and use medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries in the state.
Additional conditions that are approved for treatment with medical marijuana include:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Crohn's Disease
- Parkinson's Disease
Purchasing Medical Marijuana in Florida
It is essential to note that having a registration to receive medical marijuana in the state of Florida does not mean that you can purchase cannabis anywhere. It is still illegal to buy marijuana off the street, or from any party or organization that is not licensed through the state. Even with a medical marijuana license, you can face charges if law enforcement finds you buying the drug through illicit means. You must purchase your medicinal marijuana at a state dispensary.
Additionally, there are laws that govern how much marijuana you may purchase and in what form you may purchase it. In the state of Florida, you may buy up to 2.5 ounces of "whole-flower cannabis" every 35 days. You can purchase whole-flower cannabis, which you can smoke, edible items that contain THC, as well as THC tinctures, oils, and extracts. The law allowing edible items containing THC is new, having just gone into effect in August of 2020.
What to Do If Law Enforcement Stops You
In addition to the strict laws that outline appropriate medical conditions for which to receive medicinal marijuana, where you may purchase the substance, how much you can purchase and how often, as well as the forms you may buy, there are also laws in the state that govern the legal proof you must have to avoid arrest if law enforcement stops you while you are in possession of the drug.
If a police officer stops you while you are in possession of medicinal marijuana, you must be able to provide them with two things in order to avoid arrest. The first item you will need to show law enforcement is your state-issued medicinal marijuana registration card. Next, you must also be able to show them proof that the items in question were purchased at a state-approved dispensary. Without both of these things, law enforcement may arrest you, leading to a complicated legal process proving your innocence.
If you are facing charges for having medicinal marijuana without proper documentation, do not assume that the problem will simply resolve itself in court. It is essential that you hire a drug defense attorney who will help gather all of the evidence substantiating your innocence.
How to Defend against Marijuana Charges
Whether you are facing charges for having illegal recreational marijuana in the state of Florida or not having the proper documentation of your medicinal marijuana, it is imperative that you hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you immediately. There are defenses available to you, and you may be able to have your charges significantly reduced or dismissed entirely. However, you need the proper legal assistance and an attorney with experience navigating the system.
As with all criminal cases in the United States, the prosecutor's office must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the marijuana in question was in your possession. This means that you held ownership of it, knew what it was and that is illegal, and that you knew it was present.
For example, you may borrow a friend or family member's car to run a quick errand. It is possible that they left marijuana in the glove box, and you did not know about it. Just because you are in close proximity to the drug does not necessarily mean that it is yours or that you are responsible for it.
Proving Medicinal Legality
If you are facing charges, you may be wondering, "Is marijuana legal in Florida? I have my medical registration." Failure to produce the proper documents is a common cause of arrest. You need a lawyer who will gather evidence that proves the marijuana in question is medicinal marijuana, that it was prescribed by a state-certified doctor, and purchased at a state dispensary. If you can prove these things, the prosecutor's office may drop your case.
Pre-Trial Intervention Programs
In the state of Florida, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor's office, where they offer you the opportunity to enter a pre-trial intervention program. A pre-trial intervention program provides you with the ability to avoid a conviction as long as you follow the terms set forth by the judge.
In a pre-trial intervention program, you may have to complete drug counseling, participate in community service, pass random drug tests, and more. Once you successfully complete the terms of the program, the marijuana charge will no longer appear on your record.
Pleading Guilty to a Lesser Charge
Additionally, an experienced defense attorney may be able to arrange a plea deal with the prosecutor's office where you can plead guilty to a lesser charge. If you are facing felony marijuana charges, this is especially important, as having your charge reduced to a misdemeanor has many benefits. A felony conviction will follow you around for the rest of your life. Employers may refuse to hire you, and landlords may refuse to rent a home to you upon seeing a felony conviction on a background check. Only a well-versed defense attorney will know how to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor in a way that will benefit you. It is crucial that you contact a lawyer as quickly as possible following your arrest.
Schedule Your Free Consultation
If you are facing criminal charges for marijuana, contact Weinstein Legal right away and ask for attorney Matt Shafran. Mr. Shafran has years of experience in the courtroom and has helped many clients receive positive outcomes. It is important not to lose hope if you are facing charges. You do not have to face the courts alone. Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida, Mr. Shafran, will work diligently to build a case in your defense, doing everything in his power to help you avoid a conviction.
Call Weinstein Legal today for a free case evaluation with no obligation. Our phones are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and there will never be a time when your call goes unanswered. Call 954-845-0505 and ask for criminal defense attorney Matt Shafran to begin fighting your case.