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.
These days there are so many bills and laws containing marijuana legislation that it is sometimes hard to keep up. The state of Florida is largely known for its tourism. People who visit from states where medical or recreational marijuana are already legalized, may not realize that only medical is currently legal in Florida.
As many residents of Fort Meyers probably know, the recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in this state. However, a new law that has legalized the possession and use of hemp products is making marijuana crimes tougher to prosecute. Some prosecutors have even declined to take on new possession of marijuana cases. Legalized hemp presents a problem because, like marijuana, it is a product of a plant called cannabis, although hemp is a different species than the marijuana plant.
A previous post on this blog discussed how the use, possession and sale of marijuana is still illegal in Florida, except for medicinal purposes. In many cases, however, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor. However, if a person has over 20 grams of marijuana in their possession, then police and prosecutors may charge them with possession with intent to distribute. This offense is a third-degree felony under Florida law, which means that a person can go to prison for up to five years, even for a first-time offense.
Florida residents are not likely to benefit any time soon from the leniency toward marijuana that some other states, and even whole countries are beginning to show. Despite these steps toward legalization of marijuana use and possession that are popping up in certain parts of the country in recent years, Florida is not showing any signs of taking part. As a result, Florida residents who are arrested for marijuana-related charges will still need to take the time to start carefully planning a defense strategy.
Most criminal laws are determined on a state-by-state basis in America. Drug crime laws, in particular, can be very state-specific. For instance, some West Coast states, like California and Washington, have legalized marijuana possession and use, to a certain extent. However, in other states, such as Florida, possession of marijuana for anything other than medically-prescribed uses remains illegal.