Recreational Use of Marijuana Is Still Illegal
Written by Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law on May 16, 2017
There is still quite a bit of confusion over recent changes to Florida’s marijuana laws. Last year, voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that permits the use of “medical cannabis” with a physician’s approval. Unfortunately, Florida legislators have not been able to agree on specific regulations to implement the amendment, and unless a special session is held, the state Department of Health may be forced to come up with rules on its own.
The State of (Non-Medical) Marijuana Law in Florida
Some people might think the medical marijuana amendment also means that recreational marijuana use is now legal or somehow “less illegal” than before. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
The possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana–i.e., “possession for personal use”–remains a misdemeanor under Florida law. If convicted, a person faces up to 1 year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Additionally, if a person manufactures, sells, or possess marijuana with the intent to sell, they can be prosecuted for a third-degree felony, where conviction carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.
It is also important to remember that marijuana remains illegal under federal drug control laws, even for medical purposes expressly permitted under state law. Given conflicting federal and state rules, many Florida businesses have made it clear they do not welcome medical marijuana use on their property. For example, Walt Disney World in Orlando recently added marijuana to the list of items prohibited in their theme parks.
Possible Vote on Recreational Marijuana in 2018?
But could Florida eventually move in the direction of states like Colorado, which permit adults to possess a limited number of marijuana plants and carry up to 1 ounce while traveling? A group called Floridians for Freedom has proposed a new amendment to the state constitution that would “guarantee the right of persons over 21 years of age to possess, use, and cultivate cannabis” under rules prescribed by the state legislature.
Getting a constitutional amendment approved in Florida is not a quick or easy process. Supporters must gather signatures from a number equal to at least 8 percent of the people who voted in last year’s presidential election just to qualify a proposed amendment for the ballot. According to the Florida Secretary of State, the “Right of Adults to Cannabis” amendment currently has about 9,500 signatures out of the 766,200 required, or just over 1.2 percent of the necessary amount.
The deadline to gather all required signatures in time for the 2018 general election is February 1, 2018.
Have You Been Charged With Marijuana Possession in the Orlando Area?
So it will still be some time before we see any possible change to Florida laws governing recreational marijuana use. If you or a family member are facing a drug charge, you need to work with an qualified Orlando criminal defense attorney who can advise of your rights and options. Call Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, today at 407-377-0150 to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case with one of our experienced drug crimes lawyers.