A 67-year-old Pinellas County man was arrested for handing out marijuana to passersby in St. Petersburg on December 21. Police were called, and the man was found to have 45 grams of marijuana on him. When asked what he was doing, he simply stated he was doing it because it was Christmas.
The stunt landed him in jail, and he now faces a charge of possession of marijuana with the intent to sell. Unfortunately, the sharing spirit did not work out in his best interests. The state of Florida finds the possession of cannabis with intent to sell to be a Class III felony, carrying from five to 15 years in prison, in addition to steep fines.
In order for a prosecution in Florida to prove intent to sell, three elements must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. First, the defendant must have had the substance in his possession. Clearly, the defendant in this case did. Second, the substance must be considered a controlled substance as defined in Section 893.03, Florida Statutes. Cannabis is considered a controlled substance. Third, the Defendant must have had knowledge that the substance was present. Again, the Defendant in this matter clearly knew since he was freely giving it away, and admitted doing so.
While this story has an element of humor to it, the fact of the matter is that this man landed himself in big trouble. He now very likely faces both jail time and will be ordered to pay fines. Any person who finds themselves with a charge of a controlled substance with intent to sell should consult with an attorney who can verify all three required elements are present for the intent to sell addition. He or she could potentially gain a reduced or lesser sentence.