Florida voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana on November 8, 2016. Since then, many Florida residents have had questions about the law. Many misconceptions exist about the limitations and regulations associated with marijuana use. It is important to realize that any recreational use of marijuana remains illegal. Here is a guide to the new medical marijuana law and criminal offenses that still exist.
The constitutional amendment that was approved by Florida voters is known as Amendment 2. This amendment legalizes limited access to medical marijuana for certain patients with specific medical conditions, approval from a licensed physician and valid identification. Licensed physicians are able to prescribe the drug to patients with the following illnesses:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson's disease
- Crohn's disease
A physician may also prescribe medical marijuana to patients with comparable debilitating medical conditions.
Along with having a qualifying condition, a patient must have the following requirements to be prescribed the drug:
- Florida residency
- Registration with the Compassionate Use Registry
- Other unsuccessful treatments
Even when patients fully qualify for a prescription, they will not receive medical marijuana for another three months.
Penalties for possession
Unless you have met the strict requirements and have been approved by a physician, it is unlawful for you to possess or use marijuana in any matter. Possessing small amounts (under 20 grams) is a first-degree misdemeanor with maximum penalties of a $1,000 fine and one-year incarceration period. Your license may be suspended. Penalties increase if you are caught with larger amounts. Take note of the fact that you do not have to necessarily sell or distribute marijuana to be charged with trafficking. You can be charged for trafficking marijuana if you possess over 25 pounds of the drug. This equates to a first degree felony with mandatory incarceration of three years and $25,000 fine.
With multiple states changing their marijuana laws, it is important for you to know exactly what is legal in Florida. Do not confuse the legalization of medical marijuana with strict requirements with relaxed laws on recreational use. If you are not careful, you could face expensive fines and long incarceration periods. Dealing with a misdemeanor or felony drug charge is a costly and difficult process. If you have been charged with any type of drug crime, consider consulting a criminal defense attorney for advice regarding your case.