Violations of the New Medical Marijuana Laws
Florida is one of 29 states that has legalized the use of medical marijuana. However, that does not mean that it has loosened up on its criminal law regarding marijuana. Possession and distribution without authorization are still criminal offenses that can warrant a felony charge in Florida. Driving under the influence of a controlled substance such as marijuana is also illegal. In fact, Amendment 2 specifically states: “Nothing in this section shall affect or repeal laws related to non-medical use, possession, production, or sale of marijuana.”
Amendment 2 expands the 2014 medical marijuana laws that went into effect in 2015—The Compassionate use of low-THC and medical cannabis.
Marijuana Offenses in Florida
Drug possession and distribution charges for non-medical use have not changed due to the new laws. If you are accused of drug possession, the prosecutor still needs to prove the following elements:
- The substance you have is illegal. Because some possession of marijuana is legal in the state of Florida, part of showing this prong means that the prosecution must prove that you are not a medical marijuana patient.
- You had knowledge of the drug. You must have either known about or should have known about your custody of the drug to be charged with drug possession. For example, you may not be prosecuted if your roommate has marijuana in his room and you did not know about it.
- You had control of the drug. The prosecution must also show that you exercised or had control over the location and presence of a controlled substance. Generally, this prong is easy to meet if you are physically holding the drug.
You can be charged with possession when you hold more than 20 g of marijuana. At 20 g, it is a first-degree misdemeanor possession charge. Once the amount you hold increases, it may be a third-degree felony possession. If you are holding more than 25 pounds of marijuana, it will increase to a first-degree felony.
Penalties for Drug Violations in Florida
For first-degree misdemeanors, you can be sentenced to up to one year in jail and must pay any related court costs. Third-degree felonies have punishments of up to five years in prison. If you are charged with a first-degree felony, you may be punished by being sentenced to up to 30 years in jail. You may also have to pay up to $250,000 in fines.
Having a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney on your side to deal with charges can significantly increase your chances of a decreased sentence. If you are medical marijuana patient, your criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville can help you prove that you have a viable defense to the possession charge. Contact us for more information.
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