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Medical marijuana coming soon to Florida?

Presently Florida has no medical marijuana law, which means that if you are using the drug to “self-medicate” then as far as law enforcement is concerned your therapeutic intentions mean little. The criminal penalties for marijuana possession vary on the quantity, with small amounts (less than 20 grams) being considered a first-degree misdemeanor, possession of up to 25 pounds being a third-degree felony, and possession of more than 25 pounds being a “trafficking” violation that is a first-degree felony with increasing fines and prison terms as the quantity increases.

But if proponents of a state ballot initiative are successful, medical marijuana legalization may come up for a vote in the 2016 election. And the first hurdle in that quest – gathering enough signatures to qualify the proposed measure for review by the Florida Supreme Court – has been overcome.

The purpose of the supreme court review is not to determine the “legality” of the proposed measure, but to check to see if it meets the requirements for a proper measure: that it confines itself to a single subject, and is otherwise not in conflict with the state constitution. An earlier medical marijuana measure put up for the 2014 election passed this scrutiny, but failed to garner the 60 percent of voter approval in that election to become law.

Given that some states have legalized marijuana for either medicinal or even recreational use, it is a possibility that Florida will eventually join their ranks. But until such time, possession of marijuana in any quantity remains a crime in this state, and if you are charged with either possession or trafficking of marijuana you will still need the assistance of legal counsel experienced with defending against drug-related prosecutions.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Proposed medical marijuana amendment headed for court review,” Dan Sweeney, August 31, 2015

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