The Facts About Marijuana in Florida

By Myles B. Schlam, J.D., CAP/CCJAP

Marijuana Crimes in Florida:

Marijuana laws are changing and evolving nationwide, but there are still severe penalties for marijuana possession in Florida. All charges related to pot, weed, bud, chronic, cannabis, hydro, ganja, and hash must be taken seriously. Anyone facing marijuana-related charges in Florida would be well advised to discuss his or her legal rights and options with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Florida Marijuana Charges
There are many different types of charges that can result from marijuana possession. Common marijuana charges in Florida include the following:
• Simple marijuana possession
• Felony marijuana possession
• The manufacturing or cultivation of marijuana
• Trafficking of marijuana
• Possession of drug paraphernalia

The Severe Consequences of Marijuana Convictions
It’s easy to assume that possessing a small amount of marijuana is not a big deal. This is a dangerous and inaccurate assumption. In Florida, individuals can face up to one year of jail time for possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana. A misdemeanor possession conviction also comes with a fine of up to $1,000 and a two-year potential license suspension. Possession of more than 20 grams is a felony that could result in up to five years of jail time.

The sale of marijuana is a serious offense as well. Intending to distribute 20 grams or less of marijuana without remuneration is a misdemeanor punishable by one year of incarceration and a $1,000 fine. Selling 25 pounds or less of marijuana is a felony that could result in up to five years in prison. Individuals convicted of selling, purchasing, or possessing between 25 and 2,000 pounds of marijuana, or between 300 and 2,000 plants, could face up to 30 years of incarceration with a minimum mandatory 3 year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine.

You don’t even have to have marijuana on you at the time of an arrest to face marijuana- related penalties. Drug paraphernalia is defined as any equipment that is used in the planting, cultivating, growing, manufacturing, inhaling, or injecting of drugs. Anyone with bongs, rolling papers, baggies, or scales can face these charges. Individuals convicted of possessing drug paraphernalia can face up to a year in jail, 12 months of probation, and
$1,000 in fines. These severe penalties are often added on top of other marijuana possession charges.

Consequences of Cultivation or the Intent to Deliver in Florida
The possession of a certain amount of marijuana or possessing marijuana in certain locations is automatically interpreted as the intent to deliver, which has more serious consequences than just the possession.

Here’s a rundown of consequences of additional marijuana cultivation or the intent to deliver convictions:

• If you are found guilty of possession of more than 20 grams but less than 25 pounds, the potential prison time is up to 5 years and the fine is $5,000.
• If you are found guilty of trafficking between 25 and 2,000 pounds, potential prison time is up to 15 years and the fine is $25,000. 3 years is the minimum mandatory prison sentence.
• If you are found guilty of trafficking between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds, the potential prison time is 30 years and $50,000. 7 years in prison is the minimum mandatory prison sentence.
• If you are found guilty of trafficking more than 10,000 pounds of marijuana, the minimum prison time is 15 years (with up to 30 years allowable) and a fine of $200,000.

Indirect Consequences of Marijuana Related Conviction in Florida

In addition to jail time, probation, fines, and driver’s license suspension,the following are indirect consequences of getting convicted of a marijuana related crime. Conviction can lead to:
• Job Loss
• Professional License Revocation

• Stressful Personal Life
• Other Criminal and Civil Charges such as Homicide and Manslaughter
• Ineligibility for State Financial Aid and Bright Futures Scholarships
• Possible 3 Year Ban on Public Housing
• Ineligibility for State Permits, Licenses, And Certification (Without Drug Treatment Program)
• 5 Year Ban on Adoption and Foster Care
• Lifetime Ban on Right to Possess Firearm

Consequences of Marijuana DUI in Florida

Most people think of drunk driving when they hear the term, “DUI.” In addition to drunk driving, DUI includes using marijuana and driving.

These are the penalties for a first DUI conviction in Florida. Subsequent convictions have more serious consequences.

• Fine – $500 – $1000
• Community Service – 50 Hours
• Probation – Up to 1 Year
• Imprisonment – Up to 6 Months
• License Revocation – Minimum of 180 days
• DUI School – 12 Hours
• Impoundment of Vehicle – 10 days

Successful Case Results

If you have been arrested on marijuana-related charges, it is imperative that you exercise your right to remain silent until you have an attorney present. When you are able, write down everything you remember about the arrest. Where were you? What were you doing? What reason was there to pull you over or search your person? Were drugs in plain view before a search was conducted? Were you cooperative with the arresting officer? At
which point were you informed of your rights?

In cases involving a wrongful arrest, a skilled defense attorney can fight for the case to be dismissed. If you do not have a history of marijuana convictions, it may be possible to have the charges reduced. Some drug offenders can pursue treatment programs instead of spending time in jail. One such option in Broward County is a specialized Misdemeanor Drug Court for less than 20 grams of Marijuana. The duration of this program is only 6 months, as opposed to Felony Drug Court which is for 12 months. If the client opts for the Misdemeanor Drug Court, they will be required to attend classes and counseling as well as 12-step meetings and monthly check-ins with Probation. Upon successful completion of the program, the charge will be DISMISSED! At that point, if the client is eligible they can then get their record Expunged. ASI provides this service for all of our eligible clients in the court system. While other counties such as Palm Beach and Dade do not have a per se misdemeanor drug court, a good attorney can still help arrange for a similar diversion program in a regular misdemeanor division which would also result in a dismissal of the case upon successful completion.

At ASI, we have a long and successful track record of guiding clients who are charged with marijuana and other drug charges through the criminal justice system. For a free and confidential consultation please call us today. Drug Evaluations are also provided by appointment only.

Myles B. Schlam, J.D., CAP/CCJAP
Advocare Solutions, Inc. – Executive Director
(954) 804-6888

*Myles B. Schlam is a nationally recognized expert in Drug Addiction and the Criminal Justice System and an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. He is one of approximately 100 Criminal Justice Addiction Professionals (CCJAP) in the State of Florida. Mr. Schlam also graduated from the St. Thomas University School of Law in ‘02 where he specialized in criminal law and interned with the Public Defender’s Office. ASI is licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families and operates in the tri-county area of south Florida.