In 1973, the Florida Legislature passed the “Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act” in order to “comprehensively address drug abuse prevention and control in this state.” This was codified as Florida Statutes § 893, and now serves as the controlling drug law in the state. Regardless of what the goal cited, this act has served to create criminal penalties and lifelong ramifications for a whole host of victimless crimes.
If you or someone you care about has been accused of a drug crime in the state of Florida, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible who will defend your rights. The legal team at Pumphrey Law is fighting for legalization of many recreational drugs, but in the meantime will fight for you and the best possible outcome for your case, regardless of the accusations.
History of Florida Drug Laws
Before Florida addressed drug use and possession through a comprehensive bill, the issue was taken up at the federal level. The “Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970” is a federal law that was passed to regulate the pharmaceutical industry. The goal was to divide drugs into “schedules” between 1 (I) and 5 (V). The purpose of these was to categorize schedule I drugs as those with no accepted therapeutic use, high potential for abuse and a lack of accepted safety. Schedules II through V have potential medical uses, and the likelihood of abuse decreases.
Tittle II of the federal act takes this one step further and criminalizes the possession of these drugs without a prescription. Since categorization of a drug as schedule I prevents prescriptions being ordered, it effectively illegalizes any possession of those substances. The act does include procedure for rescheduling drugs, higher or lower based on new scientific evidence. The most famous example of rescheduling attempts belongs to Marijuana. Lobbyists have been attempting remove Schedule I classification for marijuana since as early as 1972, and as of the writing of this article, 15 states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized the drug.
As states make strides towards decriminalization of drug crimes and treatment-based penalties, Florida continues to follow the broken federal model.
Florida’s Drug Schedule
Controlled substances in Florida, much like the federal rules, are classified by schedules which go from I to V. The lower a schedule, the higher the danger and the ramifications are. The classification is based on the potential for abuse, medical use and the results of abuse, according to Florida Statutes § 893.03.
Schedule I: “has a high potential for abuse and has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and in its use under medical supervision does not meet accepted safety standards”
Schedule II: “has a high potential for abuse and has a currently accepted but severely restricted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse of the substance may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.”
Schedule III: “has a potential for abuse less than the substances contained in Schedules I and II and has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse of the substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence or, in the case of anabolic steroids, may lead to physical damage.”
Schedule IV: “has a low potential for abuse relative to the substances in Schedule III and has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse of the substance may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence relative to the substances in Schedule III.”
Schedule V: “A substance, compound, mixture, or preparation of a substance in Schedule V has a low potential for abuse relative to the substances in Schedule IV and has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse of such compound, mixture, or preparation may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence relative to the substances in Schedule IV.”
Florida Drug Crimes
The Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act also outlines crimes and penalties for possession offense. These drug charges range from low-level misdemeanors to serious felonies.
Possession of one of the substances labelled as controlled is normally a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Certain drugs, classified as schedule 5, result in a second-degree misdemeanor charge, with up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Possession with Intent to Sell
If more of a substance is possessed, enough to show intent to sell or distribute, the penalty increases. The type of charge is based on the schedule of the alleged substance, but can vary from a first-degree misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000) to a second-degree felony (up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000)
“Trafficking” is large-scale manufacturing, transportation, or sale of a controlled substance. This is charged when there is an even larger amount, with the amount based on the drug in question. This can be charged as severely as a first-degree felony, carrying up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The weights for some of the most common are:
Chemical Challenge – There are two main ways a potential conviction can be lessened or stopped in its tracks. First, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a substance is a controlled substance. Drug analysis can be used to show the truth or undermine dubious results on the part of the government. Second, because the weight of drugs in question is so important, testing which reveals the total weight is not what it seems at first can be used to lessen the charges being levied.
Constitutional Challenge – Contact by the police, searches, warrants, statements by the accused, ect., all fall under constitutional scrutiny. The Constitution protects you against police invasion, and if your rights have been violated the most common result is suppression of the evidence or dismissal of the charges.
Valid Prescription – for those controlled substances for which a prescription is available from a medical doctor, that is a defense to the charges.
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.