Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in America, behind alcohol and tobacco. And although it has been used by nearly 100 million Americans, it still is illegal, according to federal legislation. Some states and cities have made changes in their marijuana laws. However, the substance still is illegal in Florida and its municipalities.
In Florida, a person can be charged with various marijuana offenses, including possession, cultivation or trafficking. This could mean jail time, expensive fines and a criminal record. All of these offenses also could be charged on the federal level, which could carry harsher penalties and mandatory minimums. If you are facing a state or federal offense, it is important to build a strong defense in your case.
St. Petersburg Marijuana Defense Attorney
After an arrest for a marijuana offense, people may feel confused about the next step or overwhelmed. Often times, a marijuana charge is a person’s first interaction with the criminal justice system. Morris Law Firm, P.A. can help you protect your future after charges for an alleged cannabis crime. St. Petersburg marijuana defense lawyer Melinda Morris received special training on prosecuting drug cases as an assistant state attorney.
This inside knowledge is of critical importance and can benefit the defense of your case. Morris Law Firm, P.A. represents adults and youth facing marijuana charges in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo, Seminole, Bradenton, Palm Harbor and other surrounding areas. Call (727) 388-4736 to schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled marijuana defense attorney today.
Information About Marijuana Offenses in Florida
- Cannabis in Florida
- Possession of Marijuana Offenses
- Cannabis Cultivation Charges
- Trafficking in Marijuana
- Additional Consequences for Cannabis Charges
- Possible Defenses to Marijuana Offenses
- Federal Marijuana Laws
- Resources for Marihuana Charges in Florida
Cannabis, commonly called marijuana, pot, weed or ganja, refers to any given amount measuring from the cannabis plant with the intention for a procedural use of the psychoactive drug. Cannabis use as a drug is the dried herbal form is the most common method of use. Cannabis, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Sativa in a typical herbal form contains the flowers and subtending leaves and stalks of mature pistillate of feminine plants. The resinous, sticky formulation of the drug is known as hash or hashish.
The psychoactive substance composite in cannabis is 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. There are more than 66 additional cannabinoids also present in cannabis. Other cannabinoids include tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabidiol (CBD), all of which are assumed to produce different effects than THC. The modern day drug has been used for recreational, religious or spiritual and medicinal purposes. Possession, use or trade of cannabis measures containing psychoactive cannabinoids came to be illegal in various areas of the world in the 20th century.
Marijuana Medical Use
Marijuana, or cannabis, has been part of humankind’s medicine for almost as long as history has been recorded. Modern research suggests cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief, particularly pain relief from nerve damage. The drug also is a known treatment of nausea, spasticity, glaucoma and movement disorders. Marijuana is a powerful appetite stimulant, specifically for patients suffering from HIV, the AIDS wasting syndrome, or dementia.
Developing research advocates that marijuana’s medicinal assets are neuroprotective and may defend the body against some types of malignant tumors. Currently, more than 60 U.S. and international health organizations support granting patients’ immediate legal access to medicinal marijuana under a physician’s supervision. The substance, however, still cannot legally be used in Florida for medical purposes.
Fifty-eight percent of voters supported a constitutional amendment to create a medical marijuana program in November 2014. However, the percentage was not enough because the Sunshine State requires constitutional amendments earn 60 percent of the vote to pass. Lawmakers in Florida are continuing to propose bills that could adjust the marijuana laws for medical purposes, but the substance as of now still is illegal.
According to Florida Statute §893.13, a person cannot sell, manufacture or deliver a controlled substance. This includes possessing with the intent to sell, manufacture or deliver a controlled substance. Marijuana is considered a Schedule I controlled substance in Florida. This means even possessing the drug could mean criminal drug charges.
Possession of marijuana in Florida is defined as having actual or constructive possession of the substance. Actual possession is when the marijuana is actually on the person, such as in his or her hand or located in his or her clothing pocket. Constructive possession is when a person knows the substance is within his or her reach and he or she has the intent to take actual possession of it.
If a person is charged with possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana, he or she could face first-degree misdemeanor charges. This could be punishable by up to one year in jail, $1,000 in fines or both. The more a person possesses, the greater the charges.
For instance, if a person is charged with possession of more than 25 grams, he or she could face third-degree felony charges. This could include up to five years in jail, a $5,000 fine or both. If a person is charged with possessing more than 25 plants, he or she also could face third-degree felony charges, which could mean up to 15 years in prison, $10,000 in fines or both.
Additionally, possession of drug paraphernalia, such as bongs, rolling papers or pipes, also could be a criminal charge. Generally, this is a first-degree misdemeanor under §893.135. However, it could be added to other charges, adding more penalties to the offenses.
Florida has several restrictions on marijuana cultivation and grow houses. Some laws prohibiting the acts include:
Proprietor of Cannabis Grow House — In Florida, it is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, to own, lease or rent any grow house or other place with knowledge that the place will be used for one of the following purposes:
- Trafficking in cannabis, according to Florida Statute §893.135
- Sale of marijuana, according to Florida Statute §893.13
- Manufacture of cannabis intended for sale or distribution to another, which is presumed if 25 or more cannabis plants are present
Dweller of Marijuana Growing House — It is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison, to knowingly be in actual or constructive possession of any grow house or other place with the knowledge the place will be used for any of the following purposes:
- Trafficking in marijuana, according to Florida Statute §893.135
- For the sale of marijuana, according to Florida Statute §893.13
- For the manufacturing / cultivation of cannabis intended for sale or distribution to another, presumed if 25 or more marijuana plants
Resident of Marijuana Grow House when Minor Child is Present — It is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in Florida State Prison, for any person who is in actual or constructive possession of a grow house or other place with the knowledge of the following:
- The place is being used to produce marijuana intended for sale or distribution to another, presumed if 25 or more cannabis plants are present
- He or she knew or should have known a juvenile is present or resides in resident
Marijuana volumes are counted by weight or by the quantity of cannabis plants. Marijuana trafficking laws punish the acts peddling, transporting and illegal importing of marijuana. State and federal marijuana trafficking and distribution laws vary according to volume, area of distribution and juvenile targeting. These laws can incriminate a person or a wide-ranging group involved in organized illegal distribution.
Trafficking 25 to 2,000 pounds: Three years in prison, $25,000 in fines or both
Trafficking 300 or more cannabis plants: Three years in prison, $25,000 in fines or both
Trafficking between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds: Seven years in prison, $50,000 fines or both
Trafficking 2,000 or more cannabis plants: Seven years in prison, $50,000 fines or both
Trafficking 10,000 pounds or more: Fifteen years in prison, $200,000 in fines or both
Trafficking 10,000 or more cannabis plants: Fifteen years in prison, $200,000 in fines or both
In addition to jail or prison time and expensive fines, a conviction for a marijuana offense could have other serious consequences. The penalties may not be court-issued, but they still could have a lasting impact on a person’s life. Some additional consequences include:
- A potential three-year ban on public housing for any misdemeanor or felony conviction
- A lifetime ban on the right to possess a firearm for any felony conviction
- Ineligibility for state financial aid
- Ineligibility for public employment without registering in a drug treatment program for any conviction
- Ineligibility for certain permits, state licenses or certifications without registering in a drug treatment program for any felony conviction
- A five-year ban on the eligibility to adopt a child or become a foster parent
- Negatively affecting your employment, military, or academic status
- Prohibiting you from attending your child’s school or recreational activities
- Ineligibility to have your record sealed
- A two-year driver’s license suspension
In marijuana cases, there are some possible defenses that could be used to fight the charges. Although each case is different, a skilled criminal defense attorney could examine the facts of your situation and determine a strong defense. Possible defenses that could lead to a “motion to suppress evidence” or “motion to dismiss charges” include:
- Your rights were violated in the performance of a search warrant
- Law enforcement did not have legal cause to stop your vehicle, conduct a pat down of your person or perform a search of your vehicle or residence
- Your rights were violated in the performance of an arrest warrant and removal of evidence as a result of that arrest warrant
- Lack of evidence that you were in constructive possession or possibility that the marijuana belonged to someone else
- Law enforcement did not have probable cause to arrest you for the offense of possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana
- Marijuana or cannabis was not within plain view or easy reach
- Entrapment by the police through the use of an undercover officer or a confidential informant
Although marijuana has been legalized for recreational and medicinal use in some states, the substance still is considered illegal federally under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. This means even in a state with relaxed marijuana laws, a person still could be charged with a federal offense, even if it is simply possession.
Most often, federal officials and those involved in the Drug Enforcement Agency are interested in targeting people who are responsible for trafficking in marijuana. These offenses often involve large amounts of the substance and could be connected to multiple people throughout multiple states. Similar to state law, trafficking charges can carry mandatory minimum sentences that increase with larger amounts of marijuana involved.
Trafficking 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana or 1,000 or more marijuana plants
- First Offense: Not less than 10 years or more than life. If death or serious bodily injury occurs, not less than 20 years or more than life. Fine not more than $10 million for a person and $50 million if other than an individual.
- Second Offense: Not less than 20 years or more than life. If death or serious bodily injury occurs, life imprisonment. Fine not more than $20 million for a person and $75 million if other than a person.
Trafficking 100 to 999 kilograms of marijuana or 100 to 999 marijuana plants
- First Offense: Not less than 5 years or more than 40 years. If death or serious bodily injury occurs, not less than 20 years or more than life. Fine not more than $5 million for a person and $25 million if other than an individual.
- Second Offense: Not less than 10 years or more than life. If death or serious bodily injury, life imprisonment. Fine not more than $8 million for a person and $50 million if other than an individual.
National Institute on Drug Abuse – Marijuana Facts — NIDA is involved with strategic support and conduct of research across a broad range of disciplines and ensuring the rapid and effective dissemination and use of the results of that research to significantly improve prevention, treatment and policy as it relates to drug abuse and addiction.
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws —NORML is a nationwide organization that supports the development of a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers could purchase it from a safe, legal and regulated source.
Office of National Drug Control Policy —ONDCP is designed to establish policies, priorities and objectives for the nation’s drug control program. The goals of the program are to reduce illicit drug use, manufacturing, and trafficking, drug-related crime and violence and drug-related health consequences.
Finding A Cannabis Defense Lawyer in Pinellas County
If you are facing a charge for a marijuana offense, hire an attorney who has the experience and insight necessary to fight for your future. Melinda Morris will never settle for the easiest outcome. Morris Law Firm, P.A. represents clients facing misdemeanor, felony, and federal marijuana charges in Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Sarasota County and other nearby areas. Call (727) 388-4736 today to begin safeguarding your future or that of your loved ones.