Florida Moves Towards Decriminalizing Possession of Marijuana, Regardless of Intended Use
Legislation was recently filed in Florida to decriminalize the possession of certain amounts of marijuana. Specifically, the bill would reduce criminal penalties for possessing 20 grams or less and/or products containing 600 mg or less of THC and any juveniles arrested for possessing these amounts would be eligible for a civil citation and diversion programs instead of serving jail time for their first offense. This also means – in addition to less jail time and small or no fines – clean or no criminal records.
Currently, Florida law dictates that possessing 20 grams of marijuana constitutes a first-degree misdemeanor and those found guilty can spend one year in jail or on probation and pay a $1,000 fine. they can also lose their driver’s license for one year and become ineligible for certain types of jobs, public housing, etc. A conviction can also interfere with other opportunities, such as those related to employment and college attendance. Because the legislation would make this a non-criminal violation rather than a criminal misdemeanor – much like a traffic ticket – it would reduce these penalties. The legislation is expected to be heard in the 2020 legislative session; starting in January of next year.
Search, Seizure, And Arrests Without Warrants Were Already Compromised in Florida
Meanwhile, activists have moved forward in placing a broader measure to legalize marijuana on the state ballot for next year as well, and some Florida localities such as Cocoa Beach have moved forward in passing their own measures to decriminalize the possession of 20 grams or less of the substance. In addition, the legalization of hemp has also complicated search, seizure, and arrests surrounding marijuana possession, as it is difficult (to impossible) to differentiate between the two even in labs, much less in the field, where law enforcement has to rely on probable cause to move forward. Even once that medical marijuana was legalized, the door was opened to challenging the right for Florida police officers to conduct a search and make an arrest without a warrant. Ultimately, to what extent people are charged very much depends upon local district attorneys and the instructions that they provide to local enforcement by way of these arrests and charges.
Contact Our Florida Drug Defense Attorneys with Any Questions
Still, it is important to remember that possession of any amount of marijuana is still technically a federal crime, and the substance remains listed on the Controlled Substances Act, although a number of federal lawmakers are working to try and change that.
If you are potentially facing a state or federal drug charge in Florida, contact our experienced Miami and Orlando drug crimes attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.