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Will Florida’s marijuana laws change in 2021?

Feb 16, 2021 | Drug Charges |

Many states have legalized the use of marijuana. But some states, like Florida, have laws legalizing only the restricted use of marijuana. Florida’s residents will want to stay on top of the laws, and be aware of any potential changes.

Florida’s laws governing marijuana

In the state of Florida, marijuana is legal if the user possesses a medical marijuana card. The medical marijuana card authorizes a person to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. According to the law, anyone using marijuana without this card is considered a recreational user. Recreational marijuana is illegal in Florida, even if the user is using it for medicinal purposes. 

How to qualify for a medical marijuana card

To qualify for a medical marijuana card, you first need to be a legal Florida resident. The resident must have a positive medical diagnosis for one of the sanctioned medical conditions. Florida Revised Statutes 381.986, section 2(a), lists all these conditions.

Once diagnosed, a qualified doctor can assist the individual with obtaining a medical marijuana card. Possession of the card places the individual on a Compassionate Use Registry that records all marijuana users in Florida. The individual can then purchase marijuana from licensed dispensaries for legal medicinal use with the card. 

Illegal use of legal marijuana

Even with a medical marijuana card, its use has restrictions. For instance, users cannot operate a vehicle during or immediately after taking the drug. Furthermore, individuals cannot smoke marijuana while traveling on public or private transport. It is also illegal to smoke marijuana in public.

Penalties for illegal possession

Possessing marijuana without a medical card could lead to severe consequences. Penalties vary by location and by amount found in one’s possession. The smallest penalty in the state is a civil misdemeanor charge. However, the maximum penalty in Florida is 30 years in prison. 

Potential changes in the law

Very recently, Florida lawmakers introduced a bill to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older. The bill would allow adults to purchase cannabis without a medical card. Adults would be able to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at a time. Smoking marijuana in public would still be illegal. However, the law would relax restrictions on those wanting to cultivate cannabis in their homes. 

Furthermore, the bill would also allow those previously convicted of marijuana possession to petition a court for re-sentencing.  

Florida’s lawmakers submitted similar proposals in the past, but they were not taken up in the chamber. Lawmakers intend to add the issue to the next election ballot if the measure fails to pass in 2021.

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