The State of Florida is slowly moving in the direction of legalizing cannabis. But that hasn’t happened yet. Although medical marijuana is now legal, many restrictions apply to medical cannabis and who can possess it.
Unfortunately, at my criminal defense firm, we still see a lot of possession cannabis under 20 grams cases. The calls to our firm range from concerned parents to young successful college students who never expected to get caught. It is also common scenario for someone to be driving a friend’s or relative’s car, and end up with a possession of cannabis arrest or a notice to appear, when they get stopped for something simple like speeding.
It is important to remember that possession of cannabis (Florida Statute 893.13) just like possession of drug paraphernalia (Florida Statute 893.145), is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $1000 fine. For first-time offenders, it is very unlikely to be facing jail time, but what’s important about these cases is that entering a plea to a criminal offense and even getting a withhold (no conviction) still means you have a criminal record.
Possession of cannabis under 20 grams is not a crime of the century, that’s what I always tell the parents who call. It could be worse. But what do you need to know is that you should never enter a plea in any case, even a minor one, without discussing it with a criminal defense lawyer and fully understanding your options and defenses.
Every case of possession of cannabis under 20 grams is different. The traffic stop may be bad. The search maybe unlawful. All of the defenses need to be explored and the case should always be worked out to the minimal possible consequences. The best case scenario is to get it dropped. So you or your child never enter a plea to a criminal offense.
I represent a lot of college students on these cases. Most of these students who get a possession of cannabis arrest or possession of cannabis notice to appear have a very bright future. A very simple mistake can ruin their chances in an already very competitive job market.