Changing attitudes towards marijuana led to its legalization in several states. Many legislatures legalized medicinal and recreational cannabis use. Some localities charge certain marijuana possession cases as infractions instead of misdemeanors. With the movement growing across the United States, Florida has become home to decriminalization strategies. Medical marijuana is legal in the Sunshine State, but recreational use is not. However, local attitudes in specific cities appear poised to embrace decriminalization.
Marijuana reform in Florida cities
Although state law says one thing, some cities chose to pass ordinances that reduce marijuana penalties dramatically. Minor marijuana offenses may lead to civil penalties, which could hurt a person’s pocket via fines but do not come with a criminal record.
Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Key West, and other regions passed ordinances that impose fines for persons possessing a specific amount, usually under 20 grams. The monetary fine could be $100 in some areas.
Florida residents and visitors must realize that state law punishes minor marijuana offenses as misdemeanors. The penalty, per state law, is a maximum of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Even if the fine is $100 and a judge does not sentence any jail time, the defendant suffers a criminal record from the misdemeanor conviction.
Facing marijuana charges
Despite what local ordinances are, state law remains state law. Therefore, someone could face arrest and state charges on marijuana crimes, depending on the location and circumstances.
Even someone who receives an infraction fine in a town with liberalized marijuana laws might get in trouble in other ways. Using “locally decriminalized” marijuana doesn’t give someone the right to use cannabis and drive.
As with all crimes, anyone charged with minor drug offenses has the right to a day in court. Issues such as probable cause and illegal search and seizure could lead to dismissed charges.