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Marijuana Charges

Marijuana lawyer in Tallahassee

Marijuana is the most frequently used illegal substance in Florida and the United States. Although states throughout the country have amended their laws regarding marijuana, Florida’s marijuana laws remain particularly harsh towards cannabis use that is not considered use for medical purposes. Depending on the quantity of marijuana a defendant is accused of possessing, marijuana charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony offense. A marijuana charge conviction can lead to severe punishments, including both criminal punishments and additional indirect consequences.

One of the most severe consequences of a marijuana offense is its effect on your ability to legally drive. A conviction for any marijuana charge under Florida law will result in an immediate six-month driver’s license suspension. Other indirect consequences include a ban from certain financial aid for educational purposes and public housing.

Tallahassee Florida Marijuana Defense Attorney

Marijuana offenses should be taken seriously, no matter the charge. Even if you think possession of the substance should not be a crime, Florida laws still consider the drug illegal. If you are facing any sort of marijuana charges, it is imperative to hire an attorney who will defend your charges aggressively.

The attorneys at Pumphrey Law have defended various drug-related charges throughout Leon County, and they will fight for your rights. The attorneys understand the importance of fighting the criminal charges and keeping your right to drive. A marijuana defense lawyer will handle your case with the utmost importance and work to get the best possible result.

Pumphrey Law represents clients throughout the Florida Panhandle, including Tallahassee, Woodville, Midway, Havana, Monticello and Bristol. Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free consultation.

Marijuana Charge Information Center

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Marijuana Charges in Florida

Marijuana, also known as cannabis or by various “street terms” such as “pot” or “weed,” remains a Schedule I drug under Florida’s Drug Schedule, codified under Statute Section 893.03.  This classification means that the controlled substance is viewed as having a high potential for abuse and limited medical use. This may seem contradictory due to Florida’s stance on allowing medical marijuana. However, the Drug Schedule is in reference to recreational marijuana, which remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance under both the State and Federal Drug Schedule. That means a person caught in possession of marijuana without a valid medical card can face criminal prosecution. Florida also has additional marijuana-related charges that a defendant may face.

The Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, codified under Chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes, defines the state’s marijuana laws and the penalties associated with charges. Some possible marijuana charges in Florida include:

Simple possession of marijuana under 20 grams

Florida Statute Section 893.13 defines possession or delivery of marijuana under 20 grams as a first-degree misdemeanor. Possession in Florida can mean having actual or constructive possession of the substance. Actual possession means the marijuana was found physically on the defendant. Constructive possession is when the substance was found within the defendant’s reach or control while the defendant knew it was under his or her control and that actual possession of the marijuana is illegal.

Felony possession of marijuana more than 20 grams

According to Florida Statute Section 893.13, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana in Florida is a third-degree felony. Again, possession could be either actual or constructive.

Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia

Marijuana paraphernalia laws are the same as drug paraphernalia laws in Florida. Under Florida Statute Section 893.145, paraphernalia is any equipment, products, or materials which are used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, growing, smoking, ingesting or inhaling of the substance. Examples of paraphernalia include pipes, bongs, papers, roach clips or marijuana grinders. This charge is also a first-degree misdemeanor.

Manufacture of Cannabis/Cultivation

The cultivation of marijuana is considered “manufacturing” a controlled substance under Florida law and is covered under the same statute as the marijuana distribution. Producing or growing marijuana is a third-degree felony under Florida Statute Section 893.13.

Trafficking Cannabis

Florida Statute Section 893.135 defines marijuana trafficking as when a person knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, cultivates, brings into Florida or is in possession of more than 25 pounds of marijuana or 300 cannabis plants. The charges for trafficking depend on the amount of cannabis involved, and they can range from a third-degree felony to a first-degree felony.

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Penalties for Marijuana Charges

Penalties for marijuana offenses differ based on the alleged offense and the amount of cannabis involved in the alleged crime. Certain cannabis convictions in Florida will result in an immediate suspension of your driver’s license for six months pursuant to Florida Statute Section 322.055, whether or not the charge was driving related. Other convictions can lead to:

  • A three-year ban on public housing;
  • A lifetime ban on firearm possession or ownership under Florida Statute Section 790.23 because of a felony conviction;
  • The inability to receive state financial aid and certain scholarships for schooling;
  • Being ineligible for government employment unless registered in a drug treatment program;
  • The inability to receive certain licenses, permits or certifications unless registered in a drug treatment program for felonies; or
  • A five-year ban on adopting or becoming a foster parent in Florida.

Marijuana offenses in Florida classified as first-degree misdemeanors can incur jail sentences for up to one year, fines up to $1,000, or both. Second-degree misdemeanor offenses can result in up to 60 days in jail, fines up to $500, or both.

A third-degree felony can result in up to five years in state prison, fines up to $5,000, or both. Second-degree marijuana felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in state prison and fines up to $25,000. First-degree felonies can incur up to 30 years in prison, fines up to $200,000, or both.

If the quantity of marijuana found in a defendant’s possession is or exceeds 25 pounds or 300 plants, the offense is considered a drug trafficking charge. Marijuana trafficking in Florida is a first-degree felony, which carries up to 30 years in prison, with mandatory minimums and fines defined by statute.

Trafficking in 25 to 2,000 pounds or 300 to 2,000 plants of cannabis also has a mandatory minimum. If convicted, a person could face three years in prison and a $25,000 fine. For 2,000 to 10,000 pounds of marijuana or cannabis plants, trafficking carries a minimum of seven years in prison and up to a $50,000 fine. Trafficking of 10,000 pounds/plants or more of cannabis has a mandatory minimum of 15 years with a maximum $200,000 fine.

 

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Medicinal Marijuana in Florida

Governor Rick Scott signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act in June 2014, but the bill was highly restrictive in how the low-potency strain of cannabis known as “Charlotte’s Web” could be used and who could use it. In addition to limiting high cannabidiol (CBD), the Act only permitted use of cannabis through pills, oils, or vaporization of low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) marijuana to Florida residents suffering from certain medical symptoms. That meant smoking marijuana—even medicinal marijuana—was prohibited.

The following year, Governor Scott signed the Right to Try Act, which allowed doctors to prescribe experimental drugs and treatments to terminally ill patients; however it did not include medical marijuana. Ballot initiatives have sought to expand medical marijuana use, but a state measure in 2014 failed to gain the 60 percent supermajority of support necessary for passage of a constitutional amendment.

The 2016 November election resulted in an overwhelming voter approval for medical marijuana—ultimately resulting in Amendment 2’s passing. It took three more years for medical marijuana administration by smoking became legal when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 182 into law.

Currently, it is legal for an individual with a qualifying debilitating medical condition to apply for a medical marijuana card, permitting the legal purchase and use of medicinal cannabis. You can read all about Florida’s passing of medical marijuana and the requirements for obtaining a medical card in our blog post here.

Can You Own a Gun with a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida?

To read about recent cases challenging the confusion over legal gun possession and medical marijuana use in Florida, refer to our blog posts here and here.

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Possible Defenses to Marijuana Charges

Your defense attorney may be able to assist you in finding an error committed by an officer that can result in your charge being dropped or reduced to other defenses. Your attorney can help you determine your best option for a defense or plea deal based on the facts of your case, past criminal history, and any other mitigating circumstances.

Your attorney can file a motion to dismiss if there is not enough evidence to charge you specifically with a cannabis offense. For example, if you are charged with possession of marijuana, but were not in actual or constructive possession, then your attorney may be able to file a motion to dismiss.

A motion to suppress could be another possible defense. This can be filed by your attorney to prevent the prosecution from using evidence found as a result of an illegal search and seizure. If a search of your home, car, or person was illegally conducted by the police, any cannabis found from the search is inadmissible as evidence.

Other possible defenses to marijuana charges include:

  • Law enforcement’s failure to properly give Miranda Warnings
  • Constitutional violations by police officers
  • Law enforcement procedural violations
  • Entrapment by law enforcement officers
  • Insufficient evidence for the criminal charges
  • Your lack of knowledge or intent to commit the offense

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Marijuana Resources

  • Florida for Care: People United for Medical Marijuana
    This Florida based non-profit is a strong advocate for sensible marijuana law reform, starting with the legalization of medical marijuana. United for Care works tirelessly towards a constitutional amendment on behalf of medical cannabis users.
  • The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
    NORML is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to reforming marijuana laws and decriminalizing the responsible adult use of marijuana.
  • Rachel Hoffman – A Drug War Tragedy
    Article written by Paul Armentano, published by Cannabis Culture issue # 72 in Fall 2008. On May 7, 2008, 23-year-old Florida State University student, Rachel Hoffman, was killed in a botched police sting operation while working as a confidential informant for the Tallahassee Police Department. Rachel was busted for marijuana possession, threatened into becoming a police informant, then murdered during a bungled drug sting. After being threatened with jail time for pot and agreeing to work for authorities, police officers gave Rachel $13,000 in marked bills and arranged a buy of cocaine, ecstasy, and a hand gun. She was killed with the weapon she was supposed to buy and robbed of the police money.
  • Students for Sensible Drug Policy
    SSDP is an international student organization dedicated to improving policies regarding drugs and minimizing the negative impact of drugs and the War on Drugs on students and youth.
  • Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
    LEAP is made up of current and former members of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities who are speaking out about the failures of existing drug policies in the United States.
  • LEAP Events – Florida
    Current schedule of LEAP events throughout the state of Florida.
  • Marijuana Policy Project
    The MPP Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on gaining public support for non-punitive, non-coercive marijuana policies. The MPP works to reform state laws to reduce or eliminate penalties for medical and non-medical use of marijuana by responsible adults.
  • MPP – Florida Page
    The Marijuana Policy Project’s web page about the state of Florida’s unjust marijuana laws and policies.
  • People United for Medical Marijuana – Florida
    PUFMM is a political committee based in the state of Florida dedicated to the execution of a ballot initiative to allow patients access to medical marijuana.
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
    The DEA is a national government agency seeking to enforce the United State’s laws and regulations regarding controlled substances.
  • Federal Marijuana Penalties
    The Drug Enforcement Administration’s page about federal penalties for possessing, trafficking and distributing marijuana.
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy
    This national government office’s goal is to establish policies, priorities, and objectives of the Nation’s anti-drug efforts and programs.

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Finding a Marijuana Defense Lawyer in Tallahassee

If you have been charged with a marijuana offense in Leon County, contact Pumphrey Law to discuss the facts of your particular case. There may be ways to reduce your charge or have it completely dismissed. Finding an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney who is familiar with Florida drug laws can help you fight harsh punishments. Call (850) 681-7777 for a free consultation about your case.

Recognition for Donald A Pumphrey Jr.’s NORML Membership


Page updated September 12, 2023

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