Florida's Marijuana Laws
Written by Attorney John Knutton
With numerous states rapidly legalizing either recreational or medical use of marijuana, you might be asking where Florida stands in terms of marijuana possession. Seven states, plus the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and allows individuals to freely possess certain amounts. On the other hand, twenty-six states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some form, including Florida, which has legalized the medical use of marijuana.
As of January 1, 2017, simple possession of marijuana (less than 20 grams) still remains a misdemeanor in the State of Florida, punishable by up to one year in jail, and a $1000 fine. It is important to remember that even though medical marijuana is now legal in Florida, if you do not qualify for the medical use of marijuana, and do not possess a license, you can be arrested.
There are several police agencies that are now taking a less severe approach to possession of small amounts of marijuana. The Orlando Police Department recently started their civil infraction program for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. After October 1, 2016, if an individual is stopped in Orlando, and is found to be possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana, the police officer has discretion to issue a civil infraction ticket instead of arresting that person. Essentially, Orlando has made possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana a "Class II" violation of city code, with a $100 fine for the first offense, $200 for the second offense, and a mandatory court appearance for the third offense. Orlando has also created a substance abuse diversionary program, allowing people who receive such a citation to do eight hours of community service or eight hours of substance abuse education if they cannot pay the fine.
If you have been arrested for possession of marijuana, it is critical that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to properly represent you. Attorneys Joe Pate and John Knutton have extensive backgrounds in criminal law, and are able to assist you through the often confusing criminal justice system after you have been arrested.