20 grams is not even an ounce, but those who are charged with possession of marijuana over 20 grams can be charged with a third-degree felony in the State of Florida. That means that you can face up to five years in state prison for being found in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

Understanding Felony Marijuana, Cannabis Charges

Drug possession charges can be found in Florida Statutes 893.13 and 893.147

Florida considers the possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana to be possession for recreational use. Possession of more than 20 grams means that the individual is facing a felony criminal offense and has more serious consequences.  

In order to prove the criminal charge of possession of cannabis over 20 grams, the prosecution must present evidence of:

  1. The illegal nature of the Marijuana: The prosecutor must show evidence that the controlled substance was in fact cannabis.
  2. The Marijuana weighs more than 20 Grams: The prosecution must present evidence usually through a lab analyst at Florida Department of Law Enforcement to show the weight of the marijuana is more than 20 grams. 
  3. Knowledge of the Marijuana: The prosecutor must prove that the person knew or should have known about the illicit nature of the marijuana and its presence.    
  4. Control of the Marijuana: The prosecutor must show the accused had control over the location and presence of the marijuana.

Penalties for Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession over 20 grams

Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana is considered a third-degree felony in the State of Florida and is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison, 5 years of supervised probation and a fine of up to $5,000.  Additionally, a conviction for possession of Cannabis will also result in the revocation of your driving privileges for six (6) months by the Florida Department of Highway Safety Motor Vehicles. (Florida Statute 322.055) 

Other considerations:

  • The penalty for possessing more than 20 grams within 1,000 feet of a drug-free zone or school is considered a second-degree felony. It is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. 
  • Sale of marijuana to anyone under the age of 18 is also a second-degree felony

How is “Possession” Defined Under Florida Law

Possession is having, holding or exercising power or control over an item.  They say that “possession” is nine-tenths of the law. In this case, they are correct. Police do not need to prove that you are the owner of marijuana found on your person, in your home, or in your vehicle. They need to prove that you knew that the marijuana was there. While this is not necessarily simple, saying that the marijuana “is not yours” will not be an adequate defense under Florida law. You will need to prove that you did not know about it.  We often deal with three different types of possession – Actual Possession, Constructive possession and Joint possession.  

Actual possession – marijuana is in your hand, in your pocket or so close to you that you have control over it.  

Constructive possession – the marijuana is in place that you have control over or attempted to hide.  To prove constructive possession, the government must show that you had control over the marijuana and that you knew the marijuana was there.  

Joint Possession – this is where two or more people have control over the marijuana.  Each person who is in control can be considered in possession of the same marijuana.  

Defenses to Felony Marijuana Possession

The Attorneys at Moses and Rooth will examine all the evidence including police reports, witness statements and video surveillance in order to examine the appropriate defenses for your case. Some of the potential defenses include:

  1. Mere proximity to the cannabis does not establish possession
  2. Temporary possession
  3. Knowledge is required.  In actual possession the knowledge is presumed however in constructive cases the knowledge of the marijuana is not presumed.
  4. Entrapment
  5. Fourth amendment violation due to unlawful search and seizure – this could be an unlawful search of your vehicle or an unlawful search of your pockets. 
  6. Legally prescribed cannabis and in possession according to Florida marijuana prescription laws.  

Talk to an Orlando Marijuana Possession Attorney Today

While it probably should not even be a crime, the State of Florida has been slow to catch up with lenient marijuana laws and appears unwilling to revisit the issue. For the time being, marijuana possession can cause a serious stain on your record, even if you are only facing marijuana charges. Before you say anything to police or take a plea deal, you should discuss the matter with a skilled Orlando criminal defense lawyer. Contact Moses & Rooth today. 

Marijuana Resources

Florida Statutes 893.13 – marijuana Possession Statute

Florida Statute 322.055 – driver’s license suspension for drug conviction

Florida Statute 893.21 – overdose possession

Some Marijuana Street Terms: 

Weed, Hash, Pot, Grass, Mary Jane, Dank, Chronic, Bud, Herb, Flower, Skunk, Rope, Green, Reefer, Ganja, 420, Blunt, Hay