| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

Is America Seeing the “War on Drugs” Differently?

The United States has waged a “War on Drugs” for more than five decades. By most measures, it isn’t going very well. In states like Florida, the sale and use of illegal drugs remain prevalent. And now there is a new crisis in the form of prescription opioid abuse. Given the increasing financial, political, and human cost of treating drug addiction as a law enforcement problem, many prominent figures have started publicly pushing for at least partial legalization of certain drugs. The Push to Legalize (Some) Drugs Gains Political Support In April 2016, a group of more than 1,000 international dignitaries signed a letter to then-United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asking him to use his position to call for “reform of global drug control policies.” The authors included former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former Mexican presidents Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, and U.S. Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The authors noted that the current war on drugs has “created a vast illicit market that has enriched criminal organizations, corrupted governments, triggered explosive violence, distorted economic markets and undermined basic moral values.” The authors went on to emphasize the racially discriminatory nature of the drug war, noting that “[t]ens of millions of people, mostly poor and racial and ethnic minorities, were incarcerated, mostly for low-level and non-violent drug law violations, with little if any benefit to public security.” More recently, on June 28, 2018, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a bill to remove marijuana as a federally prohibited “controlled substance.” Schumer’s proposal would also provide funds to assist states in expunging and sealing the criminal records of individuals previously convicted of illegal marijuana possession. A similar marijuana legalization bills has also been introduced by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. A number of states have already moved on their own to decriminalize and even permit the sale of marijuana for personal use within their borders. This has created understandable conflict with the federal government, which still considers any use of marijuana–even for medicinal purposes–a crime. But the U.S. will soon face external pressure on its northern border to loosen its marijuana restrictions. On October 17, 2018, Canada’s Cannabis Act takes effect. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government secured approval for legislation that “legalizes and regulates” marijuana. Individual Canadian provinces will still have the authority to set specific rules for cannabis use, including the legal minimum age, how much someone can possess, and where drugs may be purchased. The Drug War Remains in Full Effect in Florida Meanwhile, here in Florida the state is still taking small steps towards legalizing cannabis products for purely medicinal use. It may be sometime before state officials will consider following Canada’s lead and moving towards a legalize-and-regulate system. So you still need to be conscious of the drug war and its potential impacts on your liberties. If you are charged with a drug crime in Florida and need assistance from a qualified Orlando criminal defense attorney, contact Moses & Rooth at (407) 377-0150 today.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

How Much Marijuana Can I Possess Before it is Considered a Felony?

To many people, marijuana is considered a harmless drug. However, given that the laws vary from state to state, many would disagree. While it may seem as though marijuana is pretty much decriminalized in the United States, some states still have harsh penalties in place when it comes to possession of the drug. Florida, on the other hand, is one of the strictest states in the nation. It’s not lenient at all, even for first-time offenders. Medical marijuana was only just approved in the state, and it comes with numerous restrictions. For example, marijuana cannot be smoked, but it can be used in other forms. Possession of any amount can get you in trouble with the law. You could face a misdemeanor for having even the smallest amount on you, and it doesn’t take much to get a felony on your criminal record. Florida Marijuana Laws If you are caught in possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana, you will face misdemeanor charges. The penalties include a $1,000 fine and one year in jail. Keep in mind that 20 grams is a very small amount—just 0.705 ounces. And if you’re caught with any amount over 20 grams, the penalties get much stiffer, as you’ll be charged with a felony. If you are in possession of anywhere between 20 grams and 25 pounds of marijuana, the penalties include up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If you are in possession of the drug within 1,000 feet of a school or park, it is also considered a felony, punishable by a $10,000 fine and 15 years in prison. If you are caught with 25-2,000 pounds of marijuana, this is a felony charge punishable by 3-15 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. If you have anywhere from 2,000-10,000 pounds of the drug in your possession, you will face 7-30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. If you are in possession of 10,000 pounds or more, you will face a hefty fine of $200,000 as well as 15-30 years in prison. Possession of drug paraphernalia is classified as a misdemeanor, which carries a fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail. In addition to the above penalties, any marijuana conviction can cause a person’s driver’s license to be suspended for one year. Contact an Orlando Marijuana Defense Attorney Marijuana possession can be a state and federal crime, depending on the circumstances. While possession of marijuana has been basically decriminalized in many states, it is still considered a federal crime. Drug laws can be confusing, especially when it comes to marijuana. Even the smallest amount can get you charged with a felony in Florida. Let the aggressive Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law defend you against the drug charges you face, no matter how serious. We are available 24/7 to assist you, so give us a call today at (407) 377-0150 to schedule a free consultation.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

Is Smokable Marijuana Illegal to Possess in Florida?

There is a still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding Florida’s slow-moving efforts to implement the legalization of medical marijuana. Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment last November stating that the “medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or caregiver” should not be subject to civil or criminal liability under state law. But Florida lawmakers, in adopting rules to implement the amendment, nonetheless decided to forbid patients from using marijuana in the easiest and most common way–i.e., smoking it. Legislators Reject Smoking, Approve Vaping and Tincture Although the active ingredient in marijuana–known as THC–can be consumed in many forms, most people associate marijuana use with “smoking a joint,” i.e. inhaling the vapors released by burning a cigarette containing cannabis plants. The constitutional amendment approved by voters states that nothing in the amendment shall require the state or local governments to permit “smoking medical marijuana in any public place.” But the amendment is otherwise silent on whether smokable marijuana should or should not be a legal form of medical cannabis. Following a special session to address the issue, Florida legislators decided to exclude smoking marijuana from the definition of lawful “medical use.” Instead, under a bill approved by both houses on June 9, authorized patients cannot possess or use any cannabis products that are not “purchased or acquired from a medical marijuana treatment center” licensed by the state. And these dealers may not sell smokable marijuana or joints. One Florida lawmaker told the press that the ban on smoked marijuana was justified for health reasons. “Breathing in soot, breathing in ash, carries a definite detriment, which we didn’t want to extend to medical marijuana,” state Rep. Carey Pigman told WCTV-TV. Another legislator, state Sen. Jeff Clemens, said that “when 90 percent of patients access a product one way and the state does not allow that, then they are not instituting the will of the voters,” according to U.S. News and World Report. So what are the legal options for medical marijuana patients? The legislature did approve “vaping,” which is where cannabis flowers are heated to a temperature just below their combustion point. This is considered by many experts to be safer than smoking traditional marijuana cigarettes, since vaping does not force the patient to inhale potentially toxic chemicals. The legislature also authorized cannabis “edibles” and tincture. Edibles must be a commercially produced food item using only marijuana oil and are not marketed “to be attractive to children.” Tincture is a type of cannabis-infused alcohol that some medical marijuana patients prefer as a lower-calorie alternative to edibles. Have You Been Charged With Illegal Marijuana Possession in Florida? The legislature’s ban on smoking medical marijuana is unlikely to be the last word on the subject. John Morgan, the Florida attorney who was a key supporter of the original constitutional amendment, said he would “be suing the state to allow smoke,” which he said was always the intent of the measure. But at least for now, possessing a joint is still a crime under federal and state law, even with a doctor’s authorization. If you or a family member are in legal trouble for possession of marijuana, you need to speak with a qualified Orlando criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, today at 407-377-0150 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced drug crimes lawyers.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

THC DUI Blood Test Bill Proposed in Florida

Florida legislators continue to struggle with last year’s decision by voters to legalize medicinal cannabis through an amendment to the state constitution. Some legislators, concerned that medical marijuana might lead to a rash of people “driving while stoned,” have proposed new laws to expand existing DUI laws to cover THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. However, medical and law enforcement experts caution that alcohol and marijuana are not interchangeable, and methods used to detect the former will not work the latter. Are Blood Tests Effective for Marijuana? On January 12, state Rep. David Silvers of West Palm Beach filed House Bill 237, a measure that would expand Florida’s existing DIU laws to cover driving under the influence of THC. Specifically, HB 237 proposes that a person is illegally “driving under the influence” if he or she has a “blood level of 5 nanograms or more” of THC per “milliliter of blood.” This would apply to both operating a motor vehicle or a boat. Thousands of bills are introduced every year in the Florida legislature. Most are never passed and die while pending before a committee or subcommittee. Silvers’ HB 237 was referred to a House subcommittee on January 23 and has not been acted upon since. One reason for the lack of action may be the questionable science behind using blood tests to determine whether a marijuana user is incapable of safely operating a car or boat. Law enforcement has decades of proven experience using blood and breath tests for alcohol impairment. But THC is a much different creature than alcohol. According to a 2016 report from NPR, while “[m]easuring the volume of alcohol in one part of your body can predictably tell you how much is in any other part of your body,” the same is not true of THC. Marijuana intoxication does not work as uniformly. For one thing, THC is soluble in fat, which means it can accumulate in fatty tissues–such as the brain–even after it has left the person’s bloodstream. And if THC is consumed without smoking it–e.g., eating a “pot brownie”–there will be no trace of it whatsoever in the blood. As one researcher told NPR, state legislators want to come up with “one number” to define marijuana intoxication–as HB 237 does with “5 nanograms”–but the science simply does not support such a standard. The researcher noted that while “[o]ccasional users can be very impaired at one microgram per liter,” chronic users, including possibly individuals taking prescribed medical cannabis, “will be over one microgram per liter maybe for weeks.” Have You Been Charged With an Orlando DUI? Given the state of the science, HB 237 is unlikely to become law in is present form. Even its sponsor told the Miami New Times that he “had not reviewed studies” on the issue and was open to amending the bill. Remember, even without this legislation, DUI based on alcohol remains a serious criminal offense. If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, it is imperative you speak with a qualified Orlando criminal defense attorney right away. Contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, today at 407-377-0150 to speak with a lawyer right away.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

Future Marijuana Laws in Florida

It seems like every day another state is legalizing marijuana. Will Florida be the next state to update its legislation involving marijuana? Marijuana laws that deal with medical marijuana and marijuana for recreational use have been a hot topic in Florida. It is important to remember that as of right now, marijuana has not been legalized in Florida. Thus, if a person is found with marijuana, they can still be charged and convicted of a controlled substance crime. Until marijuana legislation is changed, a person should understand the current laws so that they do not find themselves behind bars. Florida’s Current Drug Law Under Florida’s current drug law, marijuana is considered a controlled substance. A person cannot sell, manufacture, deliver, or possess with the intent to sell a controlled substance. If a person is convicted of this crime, he or she will be convicted of a felony in the third degree. If a person possesses under 20 grams, then it will only be a misdemeanor. However, if a person possesses over 25 pounds, then it is viewed as trafficking and the person can face a first-degree marijuana charge. The minimum first-degree marijuana charge can carry a prison sentence of up to three years in jail and a $25,000 fine. A marijuana trafficking charge can carry a sentence of up to 15 years in jail and a fine of $200,000. What the Bill Would Do If Florida’s bill becomes a law, it would mean that marijuana would no longer be considered a controlled substance, which would make it just like any other plant in the state. Medical marijuana has gained support recently in Florida in hopes that it will not hit another setback like it did in 2014. In the meantime, two Democrats introduced legislation in the Senate and the House back in September. The laws differ from traditional marijuana laws in that they simply would take marijuana off the list of controlled substances instead of creating a program where the state can tax the individuals. Even if these bills become law, the federal prohibition against marijuana will still exist. However, this would be seen as an additional step toward getting rid of the federal ban altogether. For instance, law enforcement makes 99 of 100 marijuana busts under state law. Thus, if there are no state bans in Florida then there will essentially be no charges because the federal government lacks the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state support. Drug Charges in Florida With the many changes in marijuana laws throughout the United States, it may seem hard to keep track of what drug is legal or illegal and where. If you have been charged with a drug crime you need a legal defense team to stand by your side and defend your freedoms. Our attorneys at Moses and Rooth have a great deal of experience working on drug-related cases. We are available to take your call at 407-377-0150 and provide you with a complimentary consultation.

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Marijuana

My doctor says it’s unhealthy for me to be sober?

Today the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the ballot initiative that would allow the citizens of Florida to decide if marijuana should be legal for medical purposes.  In an opinion today, January 27, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the language in the bill is permissible.  Specifically, the Court ruled that the amendment did not violate the single subject rule and the language was not clearly and conclusively defective. So what does that mean?  Well come November the voters in Florida will decide if they will join twenty states and the District of Columbia in allowing some form of legalized cannabis use.  Should make for a very interesting election cycle. Would you vote to allow medical marijuana?

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

Black Market Drug website SILK ROAD finally closed for business

Its taken years for the FBI to catch up with the black market website Silk Road and shut them down. The black market drug sales have been going on for years and escaping the grips of federal criminal law enforcement while playing a simple cat and mouse game to avoid detection. The FBI is now accusing Ross William Ulbricht of criminal money laundering, narcotic trafficking and computer hacking. However, I am sure several more indictments are in the near future. Several online forums have previously suggested that Ulbricht is not the original owner and may not have been the owner at the time of this arrest. Sophisticated online software companies such as Tor are used in several of these black market drug operations. Tor is simply a software program to conceal your identity. It lets users publish a website without revealing the location of the site. Furthermore, individuals use Tor for social communications such at chat rooms and web forums. Clearly Silk Roads administrator, who refers to himself as the “Dread Pirate Roberts” was mocking the federal government when he conducted an interview this past summer with Forbes.  This worldwide drug trade initiated a criminal complaint from the feds that states they have generated $1.2 Billion in revenue since its creation in 2001 and generated $80 million in operator commissions. Winston Ross wrote an article on September 26, 2013 titled: “Silk Road Is the Ebay of the Online Drug Trade” less than a week later the site is taken down and an arrest. One anonymous FBI agent states, “This is supposed to be some invisible black market bazaar. We made it visible.” What a pathetic statement! This site was known as the ebay of online drug trade! Everyone has known about Silk Road for years and for the FBI to take this long to break it up is an embarrassment. This is not a simple online marijuana black market trade business. Silk Road had over 10,000 listings for drugs which also included over 2000 strands of marijuana. Silk Road operated like an online mall for drug dealers. The dealers from all over the world would set up a shop and the buyers picked a store to make a purchase. The buyers will leave comments or reviews on the seller’s page about their experience. Ecstasy, Oxycodone, amphetamines, cocaine, LSD, opiates along with other non mainstream drugs/chemicals most people may have never heard of such as 2c-B, DMT, MXE, 5MEO, 4HOMIPT, 5-MeO-DMT were all for sale. Even with the closure of Silk Road, several other sites still exist offering alternatives to Silk Road such as Black Market Reloaded, Atlantis (site recently taken down) sheep marketplace and medicine mans dispensary.

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Drug Charges

Four Arrested in Eustis Drug Bust

Police in Eustis recently concluded what they described as an “extensive investigation” by arresting three men and a woman whom they believe were selling drugs. Late last week, authorities — including Eustis, Tavares and Leesburg police, SWAT teams and DEA agents — raided two homes, one on East Gottsche Avenue and the other on Clifford Avenue. They said they found “materials used to sell drugs,” marijuana, crack cocaine, a firearm and ammunition. Those arrested are: An 18-year-old man A 20-year-old woman A second 18-year-old man A 58-year-old man They have been charged with a dizzying array of offenses, including possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of crack cocaine. We have worked with people who have been accused of crimes long enough to be reasonably certain in our assumption that the defendants, especially the younger ones, are likely feeling a little dazed after their experience. First, gun-toting agents storm their homes, seize their belongings and arrest them, and now they find themselves at the mercy of the court system, caught up in process they likely do not really understand. It’s enough to put even a well-informed, responsible person completely off-balance. In situations like what we just described, the guidance and assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney can be very valuable. Many people feel a sense of relief and assurance knowing that they have qualified help in their corner. That way, their questions get answered and the process often seems a bit clearer. Source: The Orlando Sentinel, “Police: Four arrested in drug-houses busts,” Eloisa Ruano Gonzalez, March 21, 2013

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