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. Charges and convictions 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 two-year 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
- Cannabis Charges and Statutes
- Florida Marijuana Penalties
- Florida Grow Houses
- Medicinal Marijuana in Florida
- Possible Defenses to Marijuana Charges
- Marijuana Resources
Marijuana, also known as cannabis, pot or weed, remains a Schedule I drug in Florida under Florida Statute § 893.03. This classification means possession and any other act involving the use or sale of the substance is considered illegal in the state.
The Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, codified in 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 § 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 actually was on the person. Constructive possession is when the substance is within your reach and you have the intent to take actual possession of it.
Felony possession of marijuana more than 20 grams - According to Florida Statutes § 893.13, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana in Florida is a third-degree felony. Again, possession could be considered actual or constructive.
Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia - Marijuana paraphernalia laws are the same as drug paraphernalia laws in Florida. Paraphernalia is any equipment, products or materials used or intended for use in the planting, growing, smoking, ingesting or inhaling of the substance, according to Florida Statutes § 893.145. 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 to be the manufacture of marijuana, which is covered under the same law as the distribution of marijuana. Producing or growing marijuana is a third-degree felony under § 893.13 of the Florida Statutes.
Trafficking Cannabis - Marijuana trafficking is 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.
Penalties for marijuana offenses differ based on the alleged crime and the amount of drugs involved in the alleged crime. Certain cannabis convictions in Florida will result in an immediate suspension of your driver’s license for two years pursuant to Florida Statutes § 322.055, whether or not the charge was driving related. Other convictions can lead to:
- A three-year ban on public housing
- A lifetime firearm ban pursuant to Florida Statutes § 790.23 for felony convictions
- 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
- 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 up to $5,000 in fines 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.
For amounts of marijuana in excess of 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.
Florida passed legislation in 2008 regarding the laws and penalties pertaining to grow houses in the state. The Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act, codified in Florida Statutes § 893.1351, makes growing 25 marijuana plants in a home evidence of an intent to sell or distribute marijuana.
This charge would result in a felony conviction with up to 15 years in prison. Also, if you are a landlord or resident of a grow house, you could be charged with a felony and serve time in prison.
Previously, Florida legislation provided that type of punishment for growing 300 or more plants. Now, a number of plants have been drastically reduced. Further, federal trafficking laws permit up to 100 plants to be grown in a house before such a harsh penalty is imposed.
Florida law defines a marijuana plant as anything with evidence of root formation, even if it is a seedling or cutting. This legislation makes Florida one of the most stringent states regarding cannabis laws.
Governor Rick Scott signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 in June of that year, 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 the high cannabidiol (CBD), low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) marijuana to Florida residents suffering from certain medical symptoms, approved users could only utilize pills, oils, or vaporization, as administration by smoking was prohibited.
The following year, Governor Scott signed the Right to Try Act, which allows doctors to prescribe experimental drugs and treatments to terminally ill patients but 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 Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative will be on the ballot again in November 2016. Despite the continuing legality issues, some Florida courts have recognized the medical necessity defense in some medical cannabis cases.
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
United 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 execute a ballot initiative allowing 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.
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 attorney who is familiar with Florida drug laws can help you fight harsh punishments. Call (850) 681-7777 for a consultation about your case.
This article was last updated on October 26, 2016.
Attorney Don Pumphrey Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney.