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Despite the federal pardon for those convicted of simple marijuana possession, any use or possession of cannabis for non-medical purposes is against the law in Florida.

More than half of the states in the U.S. have fully or partially decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Florida is not one of them. The Sunshine State only allows approved medical marijuana.

If you are arrested in south Florida for marijuana possession, you need a skilled attorney to begin defending your rights ASAP. Call Mitchell & West LLC at (305) 783-3301.

Biden’s Federal Pardons Do Not Affect State Convictions

Attitudes about marijuana – also called cannabis – have evolved over the years. According to a November 2021 Gallup poll, nearly 70% of Americans support legalizing marijuana.

Thirty-seven states, including Florida, have legalized medical marijuana. Nineteen states have gone as far as legalizing recreational marijuana for adults.

Despite this shift, marijuana on the federal level remains a Schedule I drug, making it among the most dangerous. Marijuana shares the category with such illegal drugs as heroin and LSD. Its classification ranks it more dangerous than cocaine and fentanyl.

As a signal to the current presidential administration’s position, President Joe Biden pardoned on Oct. 6 anyone who had been convicted on the federal level of simple drug possession of marijuana. No other marijuana-related crime was pardoned nor was simple possession of any other drug.

The pardon in no way nullifies any state-level marijuana conviction in Florida.

Consequences for Marijuana Possession in Miami

The possession or sale of marijuana is a crime in Florida. Simple possession of marijuana (20 grams or less) is a misdemeanor and carries up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. An amount between 20 grams and 25 pounds is a felony possession and can lead to up to 5 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. As the amount of the drug increases, so does the penalty.

The City of Miami’s municipal code prohibits smoking cannabis, marijuana, or hemp on public property. A first-time offender will be fined $1,000. Repeat offenders are subject to increased fines. A fourth offense within a 12-month period carries a civil fine of $5,000. The policy of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office is to not prosecute simple marijuana possession charges. Broward County has also stopped prosecuting minor marijuana possession cases.

The Florida jurisdictions that have decriminalized possession of a small amount of cannabis include the following:

  • Miami-Date 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
  • Sarasota

Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana will lead to an arrest.

Florida’s Medical Marijuana Laws

The state’s first medical marijuana law in 2014 only allowed the use of very low-THC marijuana for cancer or epilepsy patients. Since then, the law has been amended twice. Florida’s medical marijuana laws now cover more conditions and allow smoking the cannabis flower. The 90-day waiting period was also removed.

Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana include the following:

  • ALS
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • PTSD
  • Seizures
  • Terminal illness

The law requires patients to be approved for marijuana use by a qualifying physician. The individual will then be added to the Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry. Approved patients can possess up to 4 ounces. They can purchase up to 2.5 ounces every 35 days.

Bids to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Have Failed

In the 2022 legislative session, State Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson sponsored a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in small quantities for adults 21 years old or older. The legislation also provided for the licensure of marijuana establishments and the removal of cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances in the state. That bill died in the Regulatory Reform Subcommittee in March.

The failure of that bill is likely not the end. In August 2022, a marijuana legalization initiative was filed with hopes of it being included on the 2024 ballot. A similar proposed constitutional amendment was struck down by the Florida Supreme Court for misleading ballot language. The backers of the latest initiative believe the new language will satisfy the Supreme Court’s requirements.

Arrested for a Drug Offense? We Can Help

Do not be fooled by some jurisdictions decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. Many communities still prosecute all marijuana possession cases, and all jurisdictions will prosecute if the amount is more than 20 grams. There is no leniency for other drugs. Cocaine, fentanyl, and many other controlled substances will mean felony charges.

Your future and freedom are too important to gamble on inexperienced legal representation. At Mitchell & West LLC, we use our more than 100 years of combined experience to aggressively defend the rights of our clients.

Facing drug charges? Schedule a consultation right away. Reach us online or call (305) 783-3301.