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Clearing up confusion on Florida's marijuana laws

As many states begin to make changes to marijuana laws, it can be difficult to keep track. Different states have decided to decriminalize or legalize marijuana use according to varying circumstances and conditions. If you live in the Sunshine State, you have probably heard about the legalization of medical marijuana that has gone into effect this year. It is important to be aware that there are strict guidelines and limitations to using marijuana for medicinal purposes. Here is an overview of marijuana laws in Florida.

Medical marijuana legalized

In 2016, Florida voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana by passing the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, commonly referred to as Amendment 2. Amendment 2 went into effect on January 3, 2017. It allows individuals with certain diseases to be prescribed medical marijuana by a licensed physician. Eligible diseases and conditions include the following:

  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Epilepsy
  • Crohn's disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • PTSD
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease

Rules and regulations for distributing medical marijuana are still being determined. Current regulations only allow marijuana to be prescribed in the forms of oils, capsules and tinctures. It remains unclear whether smokeable marijuana will be allowed.

Possession, sale and trafficking

Some people falsely assume that the passage of medical marijuana means the enforcement of state laws will be more relaxed. Do not be misinformed: It is a criminal offense to possess, sell or traffic the drug. Possessing less than 20 grams is a misdemeanor that can result in up to a year in jail, expensive fines and a driver's license suspension, even if your conviction is unrelated to driving. Having excess amounts on you or selling it can result in a felony conviction with as many as 15 years in jail.

Federal law

It is crucial to remember the difference between federal and state laws when it comes to marijuana use. Regardless of whether Florida legalized medical marijuana and what may happen in the future with recreational use, the federal Controlled Substance Act trumps any state law. The federal government still enforces restrictions on possessing, cultivating and trafficking marijuana.

If you were confused about marijuana laws in Florida, hopefully your questions and misconceptions are cleared up. At the end of the day, remember that medical marijuana is only prescribed in very specific circumstances, and you can still be charged with a crime for violating any restrictions. If you are facing charges related to marijuana or you have more questions, consult a criminal defense attorney.

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