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Changes may be coming to Florida's marijuana laws

Across the country, there is a national debate taking place about legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana. Four states, including Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington (as well as the District of Columbia) have legalized possession for recreational use and many more have decriminalized it or are considering doing so.

This blog post discusses legislative action being considered by the Florida legislature to change the state's current drug laws regarding marijuana.

Still Illegal

Under existing Florida laws, possession of even a single joint of marijuana can result in misdemeanor charges. While debate about full legalization continues in the state legislature, other bills are being introduced which may effectively result in the same outcome.  State Senator Dwight Bullard (D-Cutler Bay) has introduced Senate Bill 616 as a companion to House of Representatives bill HR4021, introduced by Representative Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D-Tallahassee). If the the two bills are passed in their respective changes and reconciled for passage, the law would remove possession of canibus from the criminal code.  

What About Federal Laws?

Like in other states where marijuana has been legalized or decriminalized, any new Florida law to decriminalize possession of marijuana would not displace or supercede federal law. The FBI reports that more than 99 percent of marijuana-related drug arrests they make in Florida are based on violations of current state law, rather than federal narcotics laws. By decriminalizing the product under state law, only the most serious felony marijuana trafficking charges would still be subject to federal jurisdiction.

In Short - Marijuana Is Still Illegal

Possession of any amount of marijuana is still technically illegal in Florida, although communities throughout the state are beginning to selectively enforce the law or pass their own municipal regulations. Miami-Dade County, for example, recently adopted a $100 fine for possession of less than 20 grams.

If you have been arrested for possession, having an experienced criminal defense attorney is your best option for getting charges dismissed or reduced.

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