A growing number of states across the nation have decriminalized recreational marijuana use. This allows adults over 21 years of age to possess a certain amount of marijuana for their own personal use without facing any legal consequences. An effort was made in the Florida Legislature for the Sunshine State to join the list of states that permit recreational marijuana use. However, the proposed bill SB 1576 died in the Agriculture Committee in May of this year. In the following, we will look at the current status of Florida marijuana laws, what uses are permitted, how it can be acquired, and the legal limits on possession. We will also examine the potential penalties Florida residents face for violating the current laws.
What are the marijuana laws in Florida?
The current marijuana laws in Florida are a combination of state statutes and local ordinances. This has created a legal hodgepodge with possession amounts and uses, as well as possible penalties, differing throughout the state depending on the county where you reside.
In Florida today, it is still illegal to grow, sell, and possess marijuana. However, there are a number of exceptions to this rule that relate to specific medical uses. Recreational use is still not permitted in any way, shape, or form, despite the ongoing efforts in the Florida Legislature to pass a decriminalization bill.
Medical marijuana in Florida
In 2016, the Florida Legislature passed Amendment 2 permitting licensed physicians to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients who are over the age of 18 if they are diagnosed with a specific qualifying condition. The physician has to complete training in the dispensing of medical marijuana with the Florida Department of Health, while also maintaining active registration with the Department.
The specific conditions covered by the medical marijuana law are cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, ALS, chronic nonmalignant pain, Parkinson’s Disease, and any other diagnosed terminal condition. Therefore, unless you have been diagnosed with at least one of these conditions or diseases by a qualified physician, you cannot acquire, use, or possess medical marijuana in Florida. Once a patient has been diagnosed, he or she must apply for a Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMUR) card. This will permit the patient to purchase medical marijuana from a Florida Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC). This is the only place where medical marijuana can be legally purchased. If you are in possession of any marijuana purchased from any other source, you can be found guilty of illegal cannabis possession even if you have an active MMUR card.
What are the possession limits and what are the possible penalties for violating the Florida marijuana laws?
Currently, the possession of any amount of marijuana is a crime in Florida except for amounts of medical marijuana legally obtained from an MMTC. However, a number of counties and municipalities have decriminalized the possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana. These are Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Tampa, Orlando, Miami Beach, Hallandale Beach, Key West, West Palm Beach, Volusia, Osceola, Alachua, Sarasota, Cocoa Beach, and Port Richey. If you are found to possess 20 grams or less, you will receive a fine, which increases with each subsequent citation. You may also be required to attend a drug education program or do community service.
If you are found to possess up to 20 grams of marijuana outside of these specific places, you can be convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries with it a potential fine of up to $1,000 and one year of incarceration. If the amount is greater than 20 grams, you can be found guilty of a felony. The penalties include a fine of up to $5,000 and a 5-year prison sentence.
This is where the penalties really become onerous. Anyone arrested with more than 25 pounds of marijuana will face charges of drug trafficking, a first-degree felony in the State of Florida. A conviction for up to 2,000 pounds of marijuana carries with it a fine of $25,000 and a mandatory minimum of 3 years in prison. If the conviction is for more than 2,000 pounds but less than 10,000 pounds, the defendant faces a 7-year mandatory minimum prison sentence and a $50,000 fine. Any amount over 10,000 pounds includes a 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence and a mandatory minimum fine of $200,000.
The Florida marijuana laws also apply to marijuana plants, hashish, and THC. It is illegal to grow marijuana plants, even if it is for personal use. Even a nominal number of plants can lead to a third-degree felony conviction with fines and incarceration. The same goes for possession of hash and THC concentrates, like vape cartridges, oils, and gummies.
If you have been charged with marijuana possession, call us today
Despite the large number of states that have permitted recreational marijuana use, Florida continues to have some of the strongest marijuana laws. If you or a loved one have been arrested for marijuana possession or distribution, including the possession of hash or THC, or the cultivation of marijuana plants, call Van Elswyk Law. We are experienced in representing individuals who have been charged with violation of the Florida marijuana laws and will fight to defend you against these charges.