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Mixed signals on marijuana use

During the November 2016 election, Florida voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that legalizes medical marijuana beyond the therapeutic uses approved in 2014. Legalization for recreational marijuana has not yet passed, although there is an ongoing movement to make that happen. Meanwhile, it is still against the law in the Sunshine State to possess, distribute or cultivate marijuana for recreational use, and punishment can be severe.

The role of marijuana in medicine

The new Florida law allows for marijuana treatment to help patients with many serious illnesses, such as cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease. Encouraged by the growing acceptance of medical marijuana, those in favor of legalizing the drug for recreational use in Florida point to the strong support by people nationwide. However, certain issues already exist between medical and recreational use. For example, if you have a marijuana crop in your backyard, you could be in trouble with the law unless you can prove it is being grown strictly for medical purposes and that none is finding its way to people who sell to recreational users.

The eyes have it

When it comes to recreational use of marijuana, you might be interested to know that police officers have undergone specialized drug recognition training. If you have been using pot and are stopped for erratic driving, you may be asked to perform certain activities like standing on one leg or walking and turning. The officer will pay particular attention to your eyes, though, because those will always show signs of impairment. Of course, if the officer finds marijuana on your person or in your vehicle, your eyes will not be the only indication of a legal problem.

Marijuana and the penalties

A marijuana-related DUI charge is very serious, but under any circumstances, possession of 20 grams of marijuana or less is considered a misdemeanor and you could face a year in jail plus a fine of $1,000. You can expect the fines and the jail time to go up from there depending on how much pot you possess, cultivate or sell, and in most cases, you will be looking at a felony charge. While a misdemeanor will not label you as a convicted felon, a more serious offense can affect many parts of your life. A felony could prevent you from qualifying for employment, for instance, or from purchasing a home.

Seeking help

The new Florida medical marijuana law does not propose legalization for all users, and if you have been charged with possession of cannabis, or with growing, using or selling it, you are going to need expert representation. Your next step is to get in touch with a determined criminal defense attorney who will work diligently to secure the best outcome for your case.

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