Isn’t Marijuana Legal in Florida?

Isn’t marijuana legal in Florida?

This is a question I’m asked often. So many people assume as the marijuana laws are changing across the nation that the Sunshine State — the land of golden vacations — would have a liberal marijuana policy. That simply isn’t the case, at least not yet.

But some kinds of marijuana usage and growing of the plant are legal.

What Type of Marijuana Is Legal in Florida?

Florida voters in the November election had several issues on the ballot. One of them was a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize the usage of medical marijuana. A constitutional amendment requires at least a 70% voter approval rate, a much larger percentage of voter support than merely achieving a majority. Amendment 2 passed overwhelmingly and is scheduled to take effect in January of 2017.

This does not mean if you are caught on the streets with marijuana that you can claim it is medicinal. This is not a viable defense. Amendment 2 legalized access to medical marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions but these require a physician’s certification and a valid ID card.

The implementation of this law will prove a little trickier as legislators still need to hammer out the details, necessary rules, and regulations. The Florida Department of Health has six months to establish program regulations, such as a possession limit. Yes, there will be one. No stockpiling.

Florida has nine months from the passage of the law to begin handing out medical marijuana cards, which will essentially be licenses to possess and use. In the meantime, a doctor’s certification will be used in place of the card.

Florida will create a patient registry and there will be a fee to be listed but listing is mandatory. As of the time of this writing the fee has not been established.

What Does This Constitutional Amendment Mean for Those Not on the Registry?

If you are not eligible for a medical marijuana card, the marijuana laws in Florida have changed very little for you. Amendment 2 did not loosen possession charges nor does it place a medical marijuana dispensary on every street corner. The charges you face for possession of marijuana in Florida are based on the amount you have and your intended use, people caught with a larger amount and an intent to sell will face stiffer penalties than those with small amounts on them for personal use. If you are caught with intent to sell, know that claiming to be a medical marijuana dispensary will not work.

It’s important to note that if you are caught with possession in the city of Tampa, a law that was passed this spring decriminalized small marijuana possession of under 20 grams, allowing law enforcement officers to use civil citations instead of arrests.

If you have been arrested for marijuana usage or possession and you’re not sure where to turn, seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney. Dean Tsourakis has extensive experience helping clients with marijuana defense and advising them on the issues surrounding the changing Florida law regarding decriminalization of marijuana.