If ever there was an issue that is a legal moving target, it has to be marijuana. Headlines are filled with news about how the drug, banned under federal law, is slowly being decriminalized at the state level. Florida is now on track with many other states in allowing marijuana for medical uses. It has not joined those states that have gone so far as to legalize recreational use of the product.
It’s a confusing environment and where uncertainty reigns, individuals should not be surprised if they find themselves facing possible drug charges for something they thought was legal. Right now, the seas in Florida are roiling, even in so far as medical use marijuana is concerned. To get some sense of where things stand, read on.
What is certain is this. Florida voters up to change the State Constitution last year. They approved the so-called Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative. It took effect just after the start of this year. What is still in question is what rules the legislature will adopt to manage the medical marijuana industry.
As this is written, lawmakers are haggling over how to go about implementing the will of the people for expanded availability. Six measures are on the table. Observers say each offers a different level of regulation. Advocates for improving access to medical marijuana say some of the plans are so strict that they will only create barriers for eligible patients. Proponents of those measures say they want to prevent possible abuse of the drug by non-patients.
If the amendment’s established timetable is met, the framework on what doctors, patients and potential growers have to do to operate legally will be in place by September. In the meantime, the only legal use of marijuana now is limited to a low-potency version for epilepsy sufferers. It’s dispensed only with a doctor’s prescription.
What this means is that the average person in Florida needs to be aware that it is illegal to possess or sell marijuana in the state. Even a small amount of 20 grams or less can result in a misdemeanor charge and jail time if convicted. Possession of any amount could result in federal prosecution. Anyone facing charges at any level should consult a skilled attorney to protect their rights.