Recently, Floridians voted over 71 percent in favor of medical marijuana for patients with certain conditions. However, legalizing medical marijuana in Florida does not change the penalties for the illegal use. Sale, cultivation and distribution are still crimes if not done pursuant to the new medical marijuana constitutional amendment. Very few companies are authorized to grow and dispense medical marijuana.
Just as possession of any controlled substance without a prescription is still a felony, possession of marijuana can still be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor (under 20 grams) or a felony in Florida. The crimes of possession with intent, cultivation and trafficking do still exist. Even though some communities, including Alachua County, have enacted ordinances (Chapter 119) that give law enforcement the discretion to issue a civil citation for possession of marijuana, the issuance of a civil infraction is NOT required.
The penalties for illegal marijuana depend on the weight or amount of cannabis and whether there is evidence of sale or intent to sell and can include a one year driver’s license suspension. Possession of less than 20 grams is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. Possession of over 20 grams is a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. Trafficking is a first degree felony that brings high fines and mandatory minimums beginning at 3 years in prison. For extracts, oils, edibles, and any other mixture, the weight considered by law is the total weight of the mixture including any other substance. Trafficking drugs of any kind, including in cannabis or marijuana, can be by possession alone.
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