Learning About Florida’s Marijuana Laws and Penalties
Published January 9, 2023
In Florida, marijuana use for recreational purposes is illegal. In addition, possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and suspension of driver’s license. Nonetheless, several cities, as well as counties, have enacted reforms to minimize penalties.
By means of a constitutional amendment, medical use was allowed in 2016. The initiative, which appeared on the ballot as Amendment 2, was passed by 71% of voters.
Florida Marijuanas Law and Policy Timeline
The Therapeutic Research Program, enacted by the Florida legislature in 1978, was never operational. The initiative would have involved pharmacists providing cannabis to cancer and/or glaucoma patients and would have needed federal approval. However, in 1984, it was repealed.
In Jenks v. State, decided in 1991, the Florida First District Court of Appeal (First DCA) sided with two ill HIV/AIDS patients who were accused of growing marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia and allowed them to use a medical necessity defense. As a result of the court’s review, the trial court’s verdict was reversed, and the defendants were deemed not guilty.
In 1998, despite a minor change in the legislature’s unfavorable Schedule I statutory language regarding medicinal marijuana usage, the same First DCA supported the medical necessity claim again in Sowell v. State.
Rep. Jeff Clemens and Sen. Larcenia J. Bullard presented HJR 353 and SJR 1028 in 2012, proposing a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida; however, neither bill was ever voted on. As a result, this was the first time medical marijuana measures were introduced in the House and Senate.
Senate Bill 1030 allows some physicians to issue orders enabling certain patients the use of low-THC cannabis. However, it requires that the Department of Health produce a record of patients and grant permission to five organizations to cultivate and distribute cannabis.
Medical marijuana advocates were successful in getting an amendment to the constitution on the ballot for November 2014; it required a majority vote of at least 60% to pass. But unfortunately, the result was only 57.6%.
Local governments began allowing officers to issue citations instead of arresting adults caught in possession of marijuana in 2015.
Amendment 2, which established a medicinal marijuana program, was approved by 71% of voters in 2016.
The legislature passed SB8A during a special session in 2017 to regulate Amendment 2.
The legislature repealed a restriction it had previously imposed on smoking medicinal marijuana by passing SB 182 in 2019.
Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry
Marijuana, under Florida marijuanas law, is still illegal. Possession of marijuana in small amounts has been decriminalized in various Florida cities, with citations issued in place of arrests. However, if a person is caught or questioned for marijuana possession or usage, there are a few things to know.
Chapter 381 of the Florida Statutes outlines the requirements for acquiring a Medical Marijuana Use Registry in order to possess marijuana legally. In addition, using legally obtained marijuana through a medical marijuana card holder and later transferring it to another person remains illegal.
Penalties for Illegal Possession of Marijuana
In Florida, the penalties for marijuana possession vary depending on the quantity. Possessing fewer than 20 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by less than one year in jail and a judge-determined fine. However, possession of more than 20 grams is a felony punishable by probation, a jail sentence or imprisonment, and penalties based on the quantity. In addition, Florida continues to prosecute the possession of large amounts of marijuana, which involve hefty fines and mandatory state prison sentences.
Most people are unaware that possessing even a small amount of THC concentrate is a felony in Florida weed laws. Furthermore, the increase in marijuana-derived products such as THC oil and edibles has led to a rise in felony charges related to marijuana possession; this is true even if it is evident that the THC concentrate was only for personal use.
Recreational marijuana consumption is still illegal in Florida, and possession of any amount of the drug carries criminal penalties. However, a person may legally use marijuana for medicinal purposes if they have a Medical Marijuana Use Registry.
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About The Author
Krizzia Paolyn is an SEO Specialist with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. It has always been her passion to share her voice, and at the same time, to encourage other people to speak up.