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Trafficking in Cannabis

Marijuana lawyer in Tallahassee

Charges for trafficking in cannabis in Florida are extensive and should be taken very seriously. Trafficking in cannabis is defined as the purchase and sale of cannabis, also known as marijuana. Trafficking can also consist of the manufacturing, delivery, or importation of cannabis across Florida into other states.

Under Florida Statute Section 893.02(3), cannabis is defined as every part of the plant, whether growing or not, of the genus Cannabis. That includes all seeds, resin, and resin compounds that come from the plant. This term doesn’t include medical marijuana as defined in Section 381.986(1)(f).

Trafficking in cannabis can be both a federal and a Florida state offense, and a conviction for either can include both prison time and fines. Criminal defense for a trafficking in cannabis charge can be complex and require the assistance of a criminal defense attorney.

Tallahassee Marijuana Trafficking Defense Lawyer

Drug trafficking charges can often result in lengthy jail sentences, expensive fines, or both. If you have been charged with trafficking in cannabis in Leon County, it is important to hire an experienced attorney. Pumphrey Law Firm will help you achieve the best possible outcome of your case.

The attorneys at Pumphrey Law are knowledgeable about Florida cannabis trafficking laws and can provide help to try and reduce your charges or have them dismissed completely.

Pumphrey Law represents clients in Leon County and the surrounding areas of Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit including Wakulla County, Gadsden County, Liberty County and Jefferson County, plus the cities of Crawfordville, Quincy, Bristol and Monticello. Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free case evaluation.

Information About Marijuana Trafficking

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Definition of Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking is defined as the unlawful transporting or transacting in controlled substances.

If a defendant is being charged with a trafficking offense, it means they not only have controlled substances in their possession, but they have exceeded the amount to reach the threshold for trafficking. This means the defendant allegedly had enough cannabis to transport them from one location to another, usually for the purpose of selling the controlled substance.

For example, if marijuana was taken across the state border, it could be considered a trafficking offense.

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Florida Statute for Cannabis Trafficking

Under Florida Statute Section 893.135, it is unlawful for any person to knowingly sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver, or bring into the state an excessive amount of cannabis which would reach the threshold of cannabis trafficking.

Any person who commits trafficking of cannabis can be charged with a first-degree felony in Florida. The penalties for a first-degree felony include up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years of imprisonment. However, the penalties for trafficking will vary depending on the details surrounding the case. The determining details include the amount of cannabis in the defendant’s possession and the defendant’s criminal history.

Florida law also states a certain amount of marijuana must be involved to constitute trafficking.

The standard amount of marijuana in Florida that indicates trafficking is 25 pounds or more, or 300 plants or more. Thus, you can be charged with a marijuana trafficking offense for knowingly selling, manufacturing or cultivating, delivering, or bringing into the state an amount of marijuana exceeding this standard.

A Florida resident who is in possession of 25 pounds or 300 plants of cannabis, even if possession of the substance is only intended for personal use, can still be charged with marijuana trafficking charges.

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Elements to Prove Cannabis Trafficking in Florida

To convict a defendant of trafficking in cannabis, the State must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant knowingly possessed, sold, manufactured, delivered, purchased or brought into Florida a controlled substance;
  • The controlled substance in the defendant’s possession is cannabis, also known as marijuana;
  • The quantity of cannabis in the defendant’s possession was more than 25 pounds, or more than 300 cannabis plants; and
  • The defendant knew the controlled substance in their possession was cannabis.

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Penalties and Thresholds for Cannabis Trafficking

In Florida, a defendant convicted of a trafficking offense will face mandatory minimum penalties. Each mandatory minimum penalty is determined by the following cannabis thresholds:

  • Between 25 and 1,999 pounds of cannabis or between 300 and 1,999 cannabis plants – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years and up to a $25,000 fine.
  • Between 2,000 and 9,999 pounds of cannabis or between 2,000 and 9,999 cannabis plants – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 7 years and up to a $50,000 fine.
  • 10,000 pounds or more of cannabis or 10,000 or more cannabis plants – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years and up to a $200,000 fine.

Trafficking in cannabis is considered a first-degree felony and is assigned either a Level 8 or Level 9 offense severity ranking under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. Due to the nature of the offense, mandatory minimum sentencing is used as the sentencing floor. This means a Florida judge cannot sentence a defendant convicted of trafficking in cannabis below what the statute states is the mandatory minimum sentence. However, one important note regarding drug trafficking convictions is that it is eligible for incentive gain time. Incentive gain time* allows convicted persons to serve only 85% of their mandatory minimum sentence, given that they maintain good behavior while in incarceration.

*The team at Pumphrey Law Firm does not assist in gain time cases.

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How is Weight Determined?

When Florida State Attorneys attempt to prosecute a defendant for trafficking in cannabis, the weight of the cannabis in the defendant’s possession must be weighed. This is due to the differing penalties which range in severity depending on the quantity of cannabis. An important detail to note is that Florida courts will weigh the entire cannabis plant to include in its weight. That means although the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is contained in the bud, the entirety of the plant will be combined towards the overall weight—including the stem, leaves, and even the water weight.

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Federal Rules and Penalties for Cannabis Trafficking

Drug trafficking is also considered a federal offense, meaning that the defendant can face both State and Federal charges. Under 21 U.S.C § 841, it is a federal offense for any person to manufacture, import, distribute or possess controlled substances, including cannabis, with the intent to sell the marijuana either across state borders, throughout the state or from a foreign country into Florida, according to the Controlled Substances Act.

The Federal Controlled Substances Act categorizes controlled substances into different schedules, with the most serious being those with the greatest likelihood of abuse (Schedule I) to least serious with a small chance for abuse (Schedule V). Under the Federal drug schedule, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug.

Penalties for trafficking in cannabis will vary depending on the amount of cannabis or marijuana plants being trafficked and if the alleged offender has any other prior convictions. Federal penalties include:

  • If no prior convictions, less than five years to 10 years to life in federal prison
  • If death or serious bodily injury results from the offense, or the alleged offender already has one prior conviction, less than 10 years to 20 years to life in federal prison
  • Individual fines from $250,000 to $8,000,000
  • Fines ranging from $1,000,000 to $20,000,000, if not an individual

As previously mentioned, the charges and penalties for a drug trafficking offense will vary on a case-to-case basis. To have a better understanding of the charges against you and the steps to take to fight those charges, we advise seeking out a skilled drug trafficking defense attorney as soon as possible.

Defenses to a Cannabis Trafficking Charge

Drug trafficking is an extremely serious offense, especially since it can be prosecuted by both State and Federal law. A person who is arrested for drug trafficking may feel as if they have already been determined guilty. However, there are still defenses that can be used to fight a trafficking case. The following is a list of potential defenses to use against a trafficking in cannabis charge:

  • Illegal Search and Seizure – If a police officer has coerced you into agreeing to a search or have committed an illegal search and seizure from your house, car, or body, you may be able to use illegal search and seizure as a defense. This type of defense can come down to whether the police should have searched you or your possession or if they lacked reasonable suspicion or even probable cause.
  • Insufficient Evidence – If the State is unable to prove all four elements due to the lack of evidence, your defense attorney can show to the court that your case should be dismissed due to the State having insufficient evidence to convict.
  • Entrapment – If a police officer coerced, forced, or enticed you into committing a trafficking offense which you wouldn’t have committed otherwise, it is considered entrapment and can be used as a defense.
  • Substantial Assistance – In drug trafficking cases, the State Attorney is required to ask the court to reduce or drop the charges against a defendant accused of drug trafficking if they have assisted in providing information on another person engaged in the alleged drug trafficking offense. If the defendant is unable to provide substantial assistance in another trafficker’s arrest or conviction, they will still be sentenced to the mandatory minimum sentencing.

To determine which defenses are pertinent to your case, speak with a defense attorney in your area.

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Finding A Tallahassee Marijuana Trafficking Defense Attorney

A drug trafficking conviction has the potential to alter the rest of your life. In addition to paying stiff fines, those convicted of a trafficking offense will likely be sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. In addition to the legal consequences, the convicted person will also have to navigate the social stigma of being considered a convicted drug trafficker.

If you have been charged with cannabis trafficking in Tallahassee, contact the attorneys at Pumphrey Law to discuss the facts of your particular case. An experienced marijuana lawyer in Tallahassee can help you challenge severe penalties and harsh punishments. Contact us at (850) 681-7777 for a free consultation about your alleged marijuana trafficking charge.

Article last updated April, 17 2023.

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