The Denson Firm

Understanding Florida Marijuana Laws and Your Rights

Florida marijuana laws have evolved over the years, reflecting a national trend over the last decade. The state has legalized medical marijuana for qualified individuals. Certain counties and municipalities have enacted their reforms regarding Florida laws on weed, providing for civil citations in particular circumstances instead of criminal charges.

But these are location-specific – not statewide, making it vital to understand current Florida marijuana regulations and laws.

Florida Laws on Weed - Is Marijuana Legal in Florida?

The recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in the State of Florida. In fact, it’s against the law to grow, sell, and possess it. Florida marijuana laws include detailed information regarding the penalties individuals face upon conviction, including potential jail time, fines, and probation. An individual may face a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. The factors involved include how much weed is present/found, the concentration of THC in the weed, and where you are when arrested.

Is Marijuana Decriminalized in Florida?

Beginning in 2015, some counties and municipalities across Florida have allowed for civil citations to be issued when someone is in possession of small amounts of marijuana, essentially decriminalizing weed in these areas. The reforms are specific to the areas and not to the overall State of Florida. Miami Beach is looking at removing the civil citation option.

Across the board, an individual who is found to possess up to 20 grams of cannabis in these counties and municipalities can receive civil citations. Fines for these marijuana citations range from $75-$100 for the first offense, $150-$250 for a second offense, and $300-$500 for a third offense. Depending on the area, alternatives to fines include performing community service or attending a drug education program.

The counties and municipalities that have approved decriminalization for up to 20 grams of marijuana include:

  • Miami-Dade County,
  • Broward County,
  • Palm Beach County,
  • Tampa,
  • Orlando,
  • Miami Beach,
  • Hallandale Beach,
  • Key West,
  • West Palm Beach,
  • Volusia County,
  • Osceola County,
  • Alachua County,
  • Port Richey,
  • Cocoa Beach, and
  • Sarasota

Florida Penalties

Under Florida marijuana laws, the penalties will differ depending on the amount of marijuana that is found. Under 20 grams is a first-degree misdemeanor, while more than 20 grams is a felony. The larger the amount, the larger the potential penalties – including hefty fines and long-term prison sentences.

If you have a criminal defense attorney, they can work with you to help you avoid harsh penalties. Your lawyer can attempt to get the charges reduced or may even be able to get them dismissed outright, depending on your particular case.

Marijuana Possession in Florida

Marijuana laws in Florida have ranges for fines and incarceration, which include:

  • Less than 20 grams — maximum fine of $1000 and up to one year in prison.
  • More than 20 grams up to 25 pounds – maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a fine up to $5,000

If you’ve found growing marijuana plants, whether they are for personal use or sale, it’s a felony – even if it is your first offense. Marijuana cultivation in the State of Florida is illegal, and the penalties are as follows:

  • Up to 25 plants – a third-degree felony and 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, and incarceration up to 15 years and fines up to $10,000

If you’re found with 300 plants or more, you face mandatory minimum penalties, with stiffer fines and long jail times.

Sale of Marijuana in Florida

There are very serious penalties for selling marijuana in Florida. If anyone is found with more than 25 pounds, they will face drug trafficking charges.

  • More than 25 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds (or 300-2000 plants) – first-degree felony, $25,000 fine, and a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 3 years.
  • 2,000 pounds+ but less than 10,000 pounds (or 2,000 – 10,000 plants) – first-degree felony, $50,000 fine, and a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 7 years.

If you’re found with more than 10,000 pounds or plants, the mandatory minimum fine is $200,000 and 15 years in prison.

Hash and Concentrates in Florida

Possession of hash is considered a felony due to its large concentration of THC. Upon conviction, you can face up to five years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines, whether for personal use or for an intent to sell.

Did you know that if you’re arrested with any amount of THC concentrate, it would be considered a felony? Since new types of marijuana products have become available, such as THC oil, edibles, wax, and shatter, it’s common for individuals to be facing felony counts. Meaning that if you’re found with, for example, one edible “gummy” or one vape pen cartridge with THC concentrate, you could be facing some very serious consequences.

Additionally, penalties increase if you’re found in possession of marijuana, including hash and concentrates (whether or not there is an intent to sell), within 1,000 feet of protected areas, such as:

  • Church or place of worship that conducts religious activities
  • Park or community center
  • Assisted living facility
  • Public housing
  • Convenience business
  • Childcare facility between 6 a.m. and midnight
  • College, university, or another postsecondary educational institute

Florida Weed Laws & Medical Marijuana

Since the passing of Amendment 2 in 2016, medical marijuana has been legal in Florida for people with qualifying conditions. These include:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive Status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Chronic Nonmalignant Pain
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • A Terminal Condition Diagnosed by a Physician

Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMUR) identification card is needed to purchase medical marijuana, which must be purchased at a state Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC).

It is important to note that just because someone has a qualifying condition does not automatically entitle them to use medical marijuana. The process of obtaining a Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMUR) identification card involves a thorough evaluation by a licensed physician who has completed the required training and is registered with the Florida Department of Health.

The physician must determine that the patient's condition qualifies them for medical marijuana use, and the patient must provide documentation of their qualifying condition. Once approved, the patient may purchase medical marijuana from a state-licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC). It is also worth noting that while medical marijuana is legal under Florida law, it is still illegal under federal law. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the potential legal implications of using medical marijuana, even if it is for a qualifying condition.

Upcoming Changes in Marijuana Legislation in 2024

Florida's marijuana legislation is on the brink of a significant transformation, reflecting a broader national trend toward cannabis legalization. In the coming year, Florida voters will have the opportunity to cast their ballots on the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, a pivotal measure that could legalize marijuana for personal use by adults aged 21 and over. This initiative, appearing on the November 5, 2024, ballot, proposes amendments to the Florida Constitution, potentially marking a historic shift in the state's approach to marijuana.

  • Key Provisions:
    • Adults 21 years and older will be allowed to possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana for personal use.
    • The initiative aims to regulate the distribution and sale of marijuana, setting the groundwork for a regulated cannabis market in Florida.
    • It also addresses the rights to cultivate marijuana plants, subject to state regulations.

The initiative maintains the framework for medical marijuana, ensuring that patients with qualifying conditions continue to access their treatments without hindrance.

Can Marijuana Convictions Be Expunged in Florida?

Eligibility for expungement or sealing depends on several factors, such as the disposition of the case (e.g., if charges were dropped or if there was an acquittal) and whether the offense qualifies under Florida law. Not all marijuana convictions may be eligible for expungement, especially for more serious offenses or if the individual has prior convictions.

Given the complexity of these laws and the potential for recent changes or amendments, individuals seeking to expunge or seal a marijuana-related criminal record in Florida should consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in criminal defense or expungement cases.

Is Driving While High Illegal in Florida?

Driving under the influence of marijuana in Florida is strictly prohibited. Florida law does not differentiate between alcohol and drug impairment; both are subject to DUI charges if they impair a driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely. The legal process involves assessing impairment levels, which can be determined through field sobriety tests and chemical testing. Convictions carry severe penalties, escalating with subsequent offenses, including fines, imprisonment, community service, mandatory substance abuse treatment programs, and the installation of ignition interlock devices on the offender's vehicle.

For a first offense, penalties may include fines up to $2,000, license suspension for at least 180 days, and up to 6 months in jail. Subsequent offenses see increased penalties, with fines up to $4,000, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and possible imprisonment. The severity escalates with circumstances such as higher levels of impairment or causing harm.

When to Hire an Attorney

As Florida marijuana laws can be complex, getting the experience of a criminal defense attorney as early as possible after an arrest is highly recommended. Your attorney can evaluate your case and begin developing an appropriate strategy for your defense, including potentially getting charges reduced or even dismissed.

If you’re facing charges for the possession or sale of marijuana, contact The Denson Firm. With 20+ years of dealing with criminal defense cases, including marijuana possession in Pinellas County, we know what you need to defend your case and get the best possible outcome.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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