Miami Marijuana Possession & Distribution Lawyer
As perhaps one of the most widely abused drugs in Miami, marijuana is considered an illicit substance by the laws of our state and by the federal government. Marijuana is also known by its plant name, “cannabis,” while colloquial terms for the drug can include “pot,” “grass,” “weed,” and “reefer.” Although many states have moved to decriminalize marijuana, the drug remains illegal in Florida. And if you are arrested for marijuana possession or charged with another drug crime, you can face jail time, fines, and other penalties.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC, as it’s more commonly known), can produce dangerous results. As such, Florida law enforcement and federal government officials take crimes of marijuana possession extremely seriously. You should never handle your marijuana possession defense on your own. Contact an experienced Miami marijuana possession lawyer at Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today.
How Does Florida and Federal Law Define Marijuana Possession?
Under Florida law, marijuana possession is governed by §893 of the Florida Statutes. Like other harmful drugs, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. Depending on the amount of marijuana in a defendant’s possession, Florida Statute §893.13 defines the crime as a misdemeanor or a felony, which is divided into the following categories:
- Marijuana possession for “personal use”: when you have less than 20 grams of marijuana, Florida law defines this as simple possession. It’s a misdemeanor offense, and it’s punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment.
- Marijuana possession of more than 20 grams: when you have more than 20 grams of marijuana, Florida law defines this as a felony possession. It’s a third degree felony, similar to heroin or cocaine possession. As such, it’s punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to 5 years of probation.
In addition to serving jail time for marijuana possession, you can also face the revocation of your driver’s license upon conviction, as well as a significant monetary fine.
Under federal law, marijuana is also still considered a Schedule I substance, and as such it is governed by the Controlled Substances Act. Although some states have decriminalized the use of marijuana it is still considered illegal under federal law, and the federal government does not note a difference between recreational or medical marijuana. Considered by the public as one of the less serious drug crimes, judges have been known to place harsh sentences on even first time offenders. Judges consider the age, prior convictions, and overall standing in the community when sentencing for marijuana offenses.
For marijuana possession, the punishment is determined by the number of prior offenses and can include prison as well as fines. The potential penalties for a federal marijuana possession charge include the following:
- 1st offense: Up to one year in prison, $1,000 fine, or both
- 2nd offense: Mandatory minimum 15 day sentence, up to two years in prison, $2,500 fine, or both
- Any subsequent offense: Mandatory minimum 90 day sentence, up to three years in prison, $5,000 fine, or both
The first and second federal possession charges are considered misdemeanor crimes; however, any possession charge after that can be considered a felony if certain conditions apply.
Marijuana Trafficking in Miami
Trafficking marijuana is an especially serious offense in Florida. Under Florida Statute §893.135, trafficking means knowingly selling, purchasing, manufacturing, delivering, or bringing into the state more than 25 pounds of marijuana or at least 300 marijuana plants.
Like possession, the seriousness of the penalty depends upon the amount of marijuana in question:
- Between 25 pounds and 2,000 pounds of marijuana, or between 300 and 2,000 marijuana plants:
- Mandatory minimum term of 3 years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine
- At least 2,000 pounds but less than 10,000 pounds of marijuana, or between 2,0000 and 10,000 marijuana plants:
- Mandatory minimum term of 7 years imprisonment and a $50,000 fine
- More than 10,000 pounds of marijuana or more than 10,000 marijuana plants:
- Mandatory minimum term of 15 years imprisonment and a $200,000 fine.
Federal law applies to marijuana trafficking if the drug has crossed state or international boundaries or if related drug activity is happening in more than one state. Federal marijuana trafficking is considered a crime of weight. The more marijuana, the harsher the penalty. In addition, if it is not your first conviction for marijuana trafficking the punishments are much more severe. For smaller amounts of trafficked marijuana, up to 50 kilograms or less than 50 plants, the potential punishments are the following:
- 1st offense: Maximum five years in prison, $250,000 fine, or both
- 2nd or subsequent offenses: Maximum ten years in prison, $500,000 fine, or both
For larger amounts of marijuana, the penalties are extreme. If found trafficking 1,000 kilograms or 1,000 or more plants the punishments include the following:
- 1st offense: Ten years to life in prison, $4,000,000 fine, or both
- 2nd or subsequent offenses: Twenty years to life in prison, $8,000,000 fine, or both
- Any subsequent offense: Life in prison without parole
And if a person is injured or dies because of the marijuana trafficked the penalties are even harsher.
In short, marijuana trafficking penalties are very steep. If you have been charged with marijuana trafficking by the state or federal government, it’s essential to hire an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer. The laws surrounding marijuana trafficking are complex, and you will need counsel on your side to help with your defense.
Contact a Miami Marijuana Defense Lawyer
At Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC, we have years of experience handling Florida and federal criminal defense cases. If you are facing penalties for marijuana possession, manufacture, or trafficking, contact our office today to speak with a Miami criminal defense lawyer. We can assist in your defense.