Recreational marijuana is currently illegal in Florida. The use, sale and delivery of cannabis is a criminal offense and can result in prison time and big fines.
Medical use of marijuana in Florida is legal, however. It’s important you educate yourself on the requirements to use marijuana medically to ensure you avoid arrest.
This blog will also educate you on the penalties and laws for marijuana in Florida and what you should do to defend yourself following an arrest. If you have been arrested, please contact our criminal defense attorneys for a free consultation.
Florida’s Marijuana Laws
Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana:
- Possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Sales or Deliveries of Marijuana
- Selling or delivering cannabis within 1,000 feet of a park, school, college or other specified area is a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Selling 25 pounds or less of cannabis is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Delivering 20 grams or less of cannabis is a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum sentence of up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Pinellas County’s Marijuana Laws
Several cities in Florida enacted reforms to apply lesser penalties to marijuana crimes in Florida.
In July 2019, the bar for marijuana arrests in Pinellas County was raised slightly. Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office deputies were instructed not to make arrests for creams and oils, unless in large amounts.
Products such as oil ingested through vape pens and cannabis-infused food products rarely result in charges.
For plant material, discretion for arrest is given. Deputies must cite factors other than the smell or appearance of the plant material. Factors include the individual’s behavior, how it is packaged and their criminal record.
These instructions aim to lower the number of arrests made on people possessing legal hemp. While hemp and marijuana and smell the same, the quantity of THC in hemp is legal.
If you’ve been wrongfully arrested for carrying legal hemp, you should contact our Pinellas County criminal defense attorneys immediately.
When Can Police Search Your Car for Marijuana in Florida?
Police can lawfully search your car in Florida when they have ‘probable cause’ to believe a crime has been committed or it contains evidence of a crime. For example, if they see you smoking marijuana or smell it during a traffic stop.
They can search in any area of the vehicle. They may also search your vehicle if you give them permission.
How Can You Defend a Marijuana Charge?
As criminal defense attorneys, we regularly help Florida residents to clear their names after a drug-related arrest.
Often, the defendants have been unlawfully stopped or never even knew there was marijuana in their vehicle.
For example, if the police had no reason to stop and search your car, then it was an involuntary search that violates your Fourth Amendment rights. This is true, even if drugs were found.
Or, drugs may be found under your car seat, in the center console, glove compartment or trunk. It is a valid defense to say you didn’t know it was there, especially if the police cannot prove you knew. This may be the case if you recently gave a friend a lift or someone borrowed your car.
Finally, you may have been arrested even if you have proof that it was a legal, medical marijuana purchase. If this is the case, please contact our drug possession defense lawyers as soon as possible.
Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Florida?
Yes, medical marijuana is legal in Florida.
- Patients need a medical card to purchase and be in possession of marijuana in Florida.
- Medical marijuana is defined as when a certified patient purchases from a licensed dispensary.
- It is illegal to share your medical marijuana with another person, even if they are registered for medical marijuana.
- It is illegal to take your medical marijuana out of state.
- You must show your Medical Marijuana card to law enforcement if asked.
Where Is it Illegal to Use Medical Marijana?
Senate Bill 8A states that medical marijuana use is illegal at the following locations:
- Public transportation*
- Public places*
- At places of employment, unless permitted by the employer
- In a state correctional institution
- At a school or college
- On a school bus
- In a vehicle
- In an aircraft
- On a motorboat*
(*) Locations marked by an asterisk permit the use of Low-THC cannabis.
Where Can You Legally Buy Medical Marijuana in Florida?
Dispensaries, also called Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) are state-licensed centers, designed to provide marijuana to patients who are registered in the medical marijuana use registry and have received a physical certification.
You cannot legally buy marijuana from other sources. Even if you have a Florida medical card, you would be committing a crime to purchase it from an unlicensed location.
View the list of medical marijuana treatment centers here.
Who Is Eligible for Medical Marijuana in Florida?
Florida residents who suffer from an eligible medical condition can be eligible to be added to the medical marijuana use registry. You must be added to the registry by a qualified physician.
Eligible medical conditions for medical marijuana in Florida include:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
Senate Bill 8A also allows access to medical marijuana for ‘other diagnosable, debilitating conditions’. For example:
- Terminal conditions
- Chronic Pains
How Can You Qualify for Medical Marijuana in Florida?
To acquire a medical marijuana card in Florida, you must visit a certified doctor who can determine your need for the treatment. Patients will be added to the ‘Medical Marijuana Use Registry’ by the doctor to receive the card.
During your visit to a doctor, you will need to provide proof of your medical condition’s diagnosis.
You can search for a certified physician here.
Can Temporary Residents Qualify for Medical Marijuana in Florida?
Yes, seasonal residents who live in Florida for at least 31-days per year and maintain a temporary residence may qualify for medical marijuana in Florida.
Can I Grow Marijuana in Florida?
No. It is illegal to grow marijuana in Florida, even for medical purposes.
Can I Use My Marijuana Card from Outside of Florida?
No, Florida does not currently allow you to use an out-of-state marijuana card or license. Cannabis is still a Schedule 1 substance in Florida state law and federal law.
If you are traveling out of Florida, you will need to check that state’s laws to see if your Florida medical marijuana card is eligible there.
What Is the Difference Between Low-THC Cannabis and Medical Marijuana?
Put simply, low-THC cannabis is a plant of the genus ‘Cannabis’, which contains 0.8% or less THC and 10% or more cannabidiol weight.
Marijuana, however, refers to all parts of any plant of the genus ‘Cannabis’ – including the seeds, resins, salt, mixture or preparation of the plant.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney for a Marijuana Arrest
If you’ve been arrested for using, selling or possessing marijuana in Florida, then our Florida criminal defense lawyers can help. We will fight fast and aggressively to find a defense that protects your future.
Randy Jackson is a top-rated criminal defense attorney in Pinellas County. He has handled countless Florida drug and marijuana-related charges in his career. He is an attorney at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms with the reputation and connections to make things happen.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300