Florida marijuana laws have traditionally been extremely tough. But as the country continues to evolve on marijuana law, Florida is following that trend to a certain extent. Due to the complexity of marijuana law in Florida, and specifically in Clearwater, understanding the current laws in 2020 is key to ensuring your rights are upheld in the criminal justice system.
What are the Marijuana Laws in Florida?
Recreational Use & Sale
Even though several states across the country have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, it is still considered illegal in Florida. If you are stopped by the police and found in possession of fewer than 20 grams of cannabis, you could be charged with a misdemeanor offense. The penalty if you are convicted includes a maximum fine of $1000 and up to one year in prison.
In the Clearwater/Tampa area specifically, there has been an attempt at decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana. You may be issued a ticket for the possession of fewer than 20 grams instead. Marijuana citations have been issued instead of a misdemeanor charge in some circumstances to allow law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes, but the State of Florida marijuana laws still allow for you to be arrested for small amounts.
The use, sale, or possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana is a felony. The penalty will depend on the amount that is found and has a range of up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000 to up to 30 years and a $50,000 fine.
If you have been issued a citation or charged with the recreational use or sale of marijuana, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Florida marijuana laws allow qualified patients to use medical marijuana. Under the parameters of Senate Bill 8A, signed into law by Governor Rick Scott in 2017, qualifying conditions for the use of medical marijuana include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Positive Status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Chronic Nonmalignant Pain
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- A Terminal Condition Diagnosed by a Physician
Marijuana used for medicinal purposes must be purchased at a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center. Under SB182, passed by the Florida legislature in 2019, smokable marijuana is legal for qualified patients, in addition to oils, sprays, edibles, tinctures, and vaping materials.
Cultivation of Cannabis
Under Florida marijuana laws, the home cultivation of cannabis is still unlawful. In fact, any cultivation is considered a felony. This includes first-time offenders. The penalties are as follows:
- Up to 25 plants – a third-degree felony
- Up to 25 plants – incarceration up to 5 years and fines up to $5,000
- 25 or more plants – if the owner of the property, a second-degree felony
- 25 or more plants—incarceration up to 15 years and fines up to $10,000
In larger scale illegal operations (300 plants or more), there are mandatory minimums and even stiffer penalties.
If you have been arrested for the cultivation of cannabis of any amount, contact a Clearwater criminal defense attorney right away. It is essential to have an experienced legal advocate.
Hemp CBD is non-psychoactive and only contains trace amounts (less than 0.3%) of THC. Under Florida marijuana laws, hemp CBD is legal, and the products can be purchased without a prescription or a medical marijuana ID.
Hash & Marijuana Concentrate
Due to its high levels of THC, possession of hash is considered a felony under marijuana law in Florida. This includes whether found in possession for personal use or for an intent to distribute or sell. If you are arrested for possession of hash, you could receive up to five years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
Marijuana concentrate is also considered a controlled substance due to its high potency and has the same penalties as hash.
If you are found in possession of marijuana paraphernalia, which includes such items as pipes and bongs, this would be considered a misdemeanor under Florida marijuana laws. The penalties can include up to one year of incarceration and up to $1,000 in fines.
Additional Parameters of Florida Marijuana Laws
There are also certain circumstances that can increase penalties if found in possession of marijuana, hash, or marijuana concentrate and/or with an intent to deliver, distribute, or sell. This is centered around the location of the arrest, where the controlled substance was found.
Increased penalties, including second-degree felonies and heftier fines, occur when the offense occurs within 1,000 feet of the following areas:
- Church or place of worship that conducts religious activities
- Childcare facility between 6 a.m. and midnight
- College, university, or another postsecondary educational institute
- Park or community center
- Assisted living facility
- Public housing
- Convenience business
Additionally, it is important to not operate a motor vehicle if you are under the influence of any form of marijuana, including if you qualify for its use for medical purposes. There are stiff penalties if you get behind the wheel of a car, truck, or boat. If you have been arrested for DUI or BUI, contact a Clearwater criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Dean Tsourakis, Experienced Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney
Dean Tsourakis has decades of experience in the criminal justice system. His experience working as both a prosecutor and as a Clearwater criminal defense attorney gives him crucial insight in strategy with the complexity of Florida marijuana laws and other criminal matters.
When faced with charges of violations of Florida marijuana laws, it is essential to have a legal advocate on your side to fight to deliver the best outcome in a difficult situation. Whether you have been ticketed or charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, Mr. Tsourakis works hard for justice and fairness and will provide clear steps and the simplest possible solution to the problem you face.
Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. It is important to get the right representation quickly.on Oct 1, 2020