The Consequences for Marijuana Possession in Florida

By Lowry Law Firm | Posted on March 19, 2015

If you live in Florida, and you watch the news, you’ve probably seen quite a few stories on marijuana. In the 2014 election, voters narrowly rejected a medical marijuana initiative. (It received support from 58% of voters, but needed 60% to pass.) And in January 2015, a bill was introduced into the Florida Senate that, if passed, will legalize marijuana for people with certain medical conditions.

At the present time, however, marijuana is illegal across the board in Florida. And – like in every other state – there are federal laws against using, possessing and/or selling marijuana. Being convicted for a marijuana charge can easily land you a significant jail sentence.

Florida’s Statute on Marijuana Possession

Under Florida Statute 893.13, the magic number is 20 – as in, 20 grams. Being in possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana (the equivalent of roughly 7/10ths of an ounce) is a much less serious offense than being in possession of more than 20 grams. The statute says that if a person is in “actual or constructive possession” of cannabis, and “the offense is the possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis…the person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.”

You may be wondering what the difference is between “actual possession” and “constructive possession.” Actual possession is basically what it sounds like – actually having a physical custody or control of an object. Constructive possession, on the other hand, refers to a situation where someone has knowledge of an object, and has control over an object, but isn’t physically touching it. If the police find marijuana in the glove compartment of your car, for example, you would likely be charged with possession of marijuana, even though it wasn’t on your body when the police discovered it. This is constructive possession.

Being in possession of 20 grams or less is considered “simple possession” of marijuana. Being in possession of more than 20 grams is considered “felony possession,” which – as you might have guessed – is a felony. To be more specific, under 893.13(2)(a), possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis is a felony in the third degree. A third degree felony can carry with it a 5-year prison term.

Florida also has a statute dealing with drug paraphernalia. Under Florida Statute 893.147, it is illegal to use or possess drug paraphernalia, or to “deliver, possess with intent to deliver, or manufacture with intent to deliver drug paraphernalia.” Many items associated with marijuana can be considered drug paraphernalia under the statute, such as bongs, pipes, and rolling papers.

Fighting Marijuana Possession Charges

Many people mistakenly assume that, because marijuana laws have been overturned in a number of states, that the penalties for possession of marijuana will be minor. But the laws in Florida allow prosecutors to seek heavy sentences in these kinds of cases. Your chances of avoiding jail time are better if you are represented by an attorney. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Mark S. Lowry regularly assists clients facing marijuana charges, and you can contact his office today to schedule a free case evaluation.