At the time of this writing, marijuana is still illegal under Federal Law. However, recent changes at the state level have legalized the use and possession of medical marijuana so long as a person has obtained a Medical Marijuana Use Authorization. Further, in some Florida cities, possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized and will result in a payable citation rather than an arrest. This muddies the waters a bit in regard to understanding the law, as there may be different rules in different areas. However, there are a few important things to understand if you are arrested or questioned due to marijuana possession or use. In this brief article, a criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan shares what you need to know about marijuana laws in Florida.
When Is Marijuana Legal in Florida?
Marijuana is only legal in the state of Florida when a person has obtained a Medical Marijuana Use Authorization, as outlined in Chapter 381 of Florida Statutes. This law includes regulations for a user registry, caregiver possession, and treatment centers for purchasing consumable marijuana. Under Florida law, it’s illegal to consume marijuana for recreational purposes. This includes the consumption of marijuana that was obtained legally through someone with a medical marijuana card and then transferred to someone else.
How Do You Get a Medical Marijuana Card?
In order to qualify for a medical marijuana card, you must meet specific criteria. Typically, the condition must be debilitating. The list of accepted conditions, according to the law, include:
- Positive status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated above
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification
- Chronic nonmalignant pain
Only a licensed, qualified medical professional may evaluate a patient for a medical marijuana card. Medicinal marijuana may be dispensed in smokable, vape, edible, or oil/concentrate forms.
What Are the Penalties for Illegal Cannabis Use?
The penalties for possessing marijuana in Florida vary by the amount. Typically, the possession of fewer than 20 grams is a misdemeanor with less than a year of jail time and a monetary fine to be determined by a judge. Possession of 20 grams or more is a felony and may result in probation, a jail or prison sentence, and fines, depending on the amount. In addition, Florida still prosecutes the possession of very large amounts of marijuana under Trafficking laws, which carry mandatory state prison sentences and heavy fines.
One feature of Florida’s marijuana laws that is commonly overlooked is that any amount of THC concentrate is a felony. Thus, with the advent of THC oil, shatter, wax, and edibles, it is now extremely common for a felony charge to arise out of the possession of these marijuana-derived substances. This is true even if the amount of THC concentrate that was possessed was clearly even just for personal use, such as a single cartridge in a vape pen, or possession of a single “gummy” type edible.
If you have been arrested due to the possession of marijuana, it’s important to contact a defense attorney in St. Petersburg with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan as soon as possible. Your attorney will discuss the best defense possible and will be with you every step of the way.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.