Since June 2015, several counties and cities in Florida, including Tampa, have taken steps to decriminalize marijuana in The Sunshine State. By replacing arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana with civil penalties—that is, penalties that involve fines but no risk of incarceration—certain Florida cities and counties are joining over a dozen states in decriminalizing marijuana.

But while cities like Tampa have taken steps toward decriminalization, marijuana possession, use, and sale is still illegal in the state at large. On the whole, Florida has taken a tough stance on marijuana possession, manufacturing, and trafficking; and Florida prosecutors are not afraid to charge individuals with the harshest penalties for possession of even small amounts of marijuana.

Erika Valcarcel with Sarasota’s Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. is a skilled Florida criminal defense attorney with extensive experience at handling all types of marijuana cases. Whether you’ve been charged with possession, possession with intent to sell, manufacturing, or trafficking, she can help you understand your charges and take the necessary steps to fight them.

Types of Florida Marijuana Charges

In Florida, individuals can be charged with any number of marijuana offenses, depending on the activity they were engaged in and the amount of marijuana involved. If you’ve been charged with possession of even a small amount of marijuana, for example, you could also end up facing possession with intent charges. Because prosecutors often pursue the harshest penalties possible, it is a good idea to enlist the help of an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney to defend your particular case.

  • Possession of Marijuana: possession of 20g or less of marijuana is classified as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1-year incarceration and $1,000 in fines. Possession of greater amounts is considered a felony punishable by 5-30 years incarceration and $5,000-$200,000, depending on the quantity of marijuana involved. Note: While possession of marijuana for medical purposes is currently prohibited use, medical marijuana may be legalized soon, depending on the outcome of a new proposed ballot measure in November.
  • Possession with Intent to Sell: possessing any amount of marijuana with the intent to sell it is a felony offense, except in cases where an individual did not receive remuneration for the sale of 20g or less. In all other cases, a person can face up to 5-30 years incarceration and $5,000-$200,000 in fines, depending on the amount of marijuana involved.
  • Manufacturing of Marijuana: like possession with intent to sell, the cultivation of marijuana is considered a felony offense and is punishable by up to 5 years incarceration and up to $5,000 in fines for 25lbs or marijuana or less. Penalties increase dramatically for larger amounts.
  • Trafficking of Marijuana: trafficking of marijuana is defined as a felony under Florida statues, punishable by up to 5 years incarceration and $5,000 in fines for 25lbs or fewer and by 3-15 years incarceration and up to $25,000 in fines for 25-2,000lbs. Penalties increase as quantities increase.
  • Driving under the Influence of Marijuana: In Florida, a person can be charged with driving under the influence when under the influence of a controlled substance, including marijuana. Penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana can include incarceration for up to 6 months, community service, license suspension for 180 days, and a fine of $500-$1000, for a first offense.

Medical Marijuana as a Defense

In November 2016, voters approved Florida Amendment 2, which allows the use of cannabis as a medical treatment by qualifying patients. The amendment is intended to provide immunity from prosecution for qualifying medical marijuana patients.

If you’re arrested for a marijuana offense and are a qualifying patient who is in compliance with the provisions of Florida’s medical marijuana laws, you may have a defense to the criminal charge. Contact an experienced Sarasota marijuana lawyer to discuss your situation and learn your options.

How Experienced Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney Erika Valcarcel Can Help

If you or a loved one has been charged with a marijuana-related offense in Florida, you may be wondering what steps to take next. At Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A., Florida drug defense attorney Erika Valcarcel can help you by answering your questions, assessing your case, and building the strongest possible defense. Attorney Valcarcel has helped numerous families navigate Florida’s marijuana laws and vigorously defends her clients against prosecutors who are seeking the harshest possible penalties.

Even while Florida is taking steps to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, and will be considering a ballot measure on the question of medical marijuana use in November, the state still treats those facing marijuana charges harshly. If convicted, such charges could haunt a person through life through his or her criminal record. To take the first step toward getting your charges reduced or dismissed, call attorney Valcarcel at (941) 363-7900 today.