Reminder: Marijuana Possession is STILL a State Crime in Florida

As of October 2021, 18 states have fully legalized recreational marijuana. In mid-2021, Virginia became the first southern state to legalize cannabis. Although Florida voters overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana usage in November 2016, possession of recreational marijuana is still a crime according to the Florida Statutes.

Some Municipalities Have Decriminalized Marijuana Possession

Starting in June 2015 with Miami-Dade County, several Florida counties and municipalities have begun issuing civil citations for first, second, and (sometimes) third offenses for marijuana possession. As of 2016, Tampa police issue citations for possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis. Fines are as follows: 

  • $75 for the first violation
  • $150 for the second violation
  • $300 for the third violation

Later in 2016, Port Richey also gave officers the “discretion” to issue $155 fines for simple marijuana possession as long as the defendant was not involved in the commission of another crime. And, Hillsborough County has also given officers discretion to cite offenders up to four times for simple possession with a sliding scale for fines (up to $500). 

Polk County Has Not Decriminalized Recreational Marijuana

The “tough-on-crime” culture permeating Polk County and its law enforcement departments has, so far, resisted calls to decriminalize even simple possession of marijuana. If you’re traveling through the county with a few grams of marijuana on your way to or from Tampa, you do so at your own risk. 

Penalties For Marijuana Possession

Possession of 20 grams of cannabis or less without a medical marijuana license is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida. A conviction for this charge could result in a one-year county jail sentence with a $1,000 fine. It also carries a potential one-year driver’s license suspension and the various restrictions associated with probation (drug testing, regular supervision, and other conditions). 

Many times, offenders are simply given a year of probation instead of jail time. First-time offenders may be eligible for a diversion program that, in many ways, is similar to probation. The diversion program often requires random urine testing, court fees, and community service. 

How Can an Attorney Help? 

As cumbersome as the diversion program offered by Polk County can be, it’s often preferable for first-time offenders. This doesn’t happen by accident, though. A skilled attorney can poke holes in the prosecution’s case and at least make the case more conducive for a plea deal. Without an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney, you’re much more likely to get hit with maximum penalties.

Attorney Heather Bryan helps clients in and around Polk County deal with serious criminal charges. Our team is here to guide you through the Florida criminal justice system and help you get on with your life. Contact us today to set up an initial consultation.

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Heather Bryan Law, P.A.

Our firm has experience defending Floridians against all sorts of criminal charges. Additionally, we are well-equipped to handle emotionally charged family law matters and devastating personal injury cases.

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