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Common drug offenses in Florida involve marijuana. Florida has the harshest marijuana laws in the nation. If you are arrested and convicted of drug offenses for possession, sale, cultivation or distribution of marijuana, you could face jail time, fines and penalties depending on the amount of marijuana in your possession and whether you were intending to sell, distribute or cultivate it. The most serious offense is the sale, delivery or cultivation of more than 25 lbs, which is considered trafficking and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years to 25 years and fines of $25,000 to $200,000. A conviction for any marijuana offense means an automatic suspension of your driver's license up to two years.

Florida Statute XLVI, Chapter 893

For possession only of marijuana (cannabis) in Florida, you face the following penalties and fines:

·    20 grams or less misdemeanor, 1 year jail, $1,000 fine
·    More than 20 grams is a felony, five years jail, $5000 fine
·    25 or more plants (formerly 300 plants) now a felony, 15 years jail 10,000 fine
·    Any conviction causes a driver license suspension of 6 months to two years.
For the sale, cultivation or distribution of marijuana in Florida, you face the following penalties and fines:
·    20 grams or less, misdemeanor 1 year, jail $1,000 fine
·    25 lbs or less, felony, 5 years, $5,000 fine
·    More than 25 lbs to 200 lbs or 2000 plants, felony and considered trafficking, mandatory minimum sentence 3 years, $25,000 fine. Under Florida law, sale delivery or cultivation of more than 25 lbs is considered trafficking.
·    2,000 to 10,000 lbs or 10,000 plants, felony, mandatory minimum prison sentence 7 years, $50,000 fine
·    10,000 lbs or 10,000 plants or more plants, felony, mandatory minimum 15 years, $200,000 fine.
·    Under Section 893.1351, if you are arrested for leasing a residence with the intent of using it as a  "grow house" you are facing a second degree felony, with 15 years jail time and a $10,000 fine. Anyone caught operating a "grow house" where a minor is present faces a first degree felony and a 30 year jail sentence.
Other Penalties

If you are arrested within 1,000 feet of school, college or park with possession of 25 or more plants it is considered evidence of intention to sell or distribute, and it is a second degree felony which carries a maximum 15 years in jail and a 10,000 fine. Possession of drug paraphernalia is considered a misdemeanor, with a sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

The Florida Bong Bill

Florida's tough laws on marijuana are further demonstrated by the latest Florida Bong Bill sponsored by regarding Representative Darryl Rouson, which was recently signed into law by Governor Crist, and went into effect July 1, 2010. The Bill bans the sale of bongs, pipes and other devices associated with smoking marijuana by stores that receive 25% or more of their annual revenues from these sales. The Bill is aimed at Florida head shop businesses. A class action lawsuit has been filed challenging the constitutionality of the law. Violators face up to one year in jail.  Tobacco shops would not be affected because the sale of these items does not reflect 25% of their annual revenues. People who want to buy marijuana drug paraphernalia can still purchase it at Florida tobacco shops or drive across state lines to make their purchases. Rouson says he has been fighting against the pipe industry, which he believes is part of the drug trade that is helping to destroy families and neighborhoods. It is Rouson's opinion that the new law supports Florida's public awareness of health and safety and law and order of society.

Case Example

Gainesville Police were questioning suspect 24 year old Bryant Michael Forsythe of 3707 S.W. 28th Terrace on Sunday July 11, 2010, when they found 13 oxycodone tablets on him while he was searched. Forsythe told the police he could prove the drugs were his because he had prescription information in his bag that he directed the police to search. Instead, police found his marijuana. He also directed police to search his closet after they found the marijuana. Officers did not find the prescription information or any more marijuana. Forsythe was arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia and is being held at the Alachua County Jail.

Marijuana offenses carry stiff jail sentences and penalties in Florida. If you are arrested for a marijuana offense in Florida, you should contact a Florida criminal defense attorney. The attorney can obtain plea bargain offers for reduced charges, or diversion to a drug treatment program, probation or get the case dismissed as a result of unlawful search and seizure or insufficient evidence. The attorney may also be able to argue a "necessity defense" under Florida common law if you are using marijuana to help alleviate symptoms of your medical condition.

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