Florida Marijuana Laws
Florida is one of 16 states that have yet to legalize medical marijuana or decriminalize their pot laws. However, a recent Public Policy Polling survey indicated that a large majority of Floridians are in favor of legalizing the use of pot for treating serious and chronic diseases, with only 26 percent of voters opposed to implementing doctor-prescribed medical marijuana as an alternative to pharmaceuticals.
A medical marijuana initiative that could be on the ballot next year has overwhelming support with Floridians- 62% say they would support it to only 26% who are opposed. There is a bipartisan consensus on the issue with independents (74/17) and Democrats (68/20) supporting it overwhelmingly and even Republicans (46/41) doing so by a narrow margin.
Summary of Florida Marijuana Law and Punishment
- Possessing 20 grams or less of pot in the state of Florida is a misdemeanor that carries a one year jail term and fines of up to $1000. Anyone caught with more than 20 grams of marijuana will be charged with a felony, sentenced to five years in prison and fined up to $5000.
- Cultivating less than 25 plants is also a felony (five years in prison, $5000 fine). Growers found with more than 25 plants will be looking at a possible 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Residents of Florida discovered to be selling marijuana “without renumeration”, i.e., lacking evidence in the form of large amounts of cash, will face one year in jail or prison and a $10,000 fine. Law enforcement finding individuals in possession of 25 pounds or less of pot are automatically considered in possession with intent to sell and will be charged with a felony that carries five years in prison and a $5000 fine. Cultivating over 300 plants is also a felony that could put the grower in prison for a mandatory seven years, with a possible sentence of 30 years.
- If you are found with paraphernalia (pipes, rolling papers, bongs) but not pot, you will still be charged with a misdemeanor and fined $1000. Additionally, pot convictions result in the Florida DMV suspending the person’s driver’s license for two years.
People United for Medical Marijuana in Florida
Established in 2008, the People United for Medical Marijuana in Florida (http://www.unitedforcare.org) is a grassroots organization led by Kim Russell that is actively pursuing the legalization of medical marijuana in a state controlled by Republican lawmakers. Currently the PUFMM is chaired by John Morgan, one of Florida’s most influential and seasoned attorneys who is trying to get an initiative on the 2014 ballot as a state constitutional amendment that does not require endorsement by Governor Rick Scott.
Famous in Florida for his “for the people” advertisements, John Morgan is determined to accumulate the 700,000 signatures needed to allow Floridians to vote on legalizing medical marijuana in 2014. According to Morgan, the Republican-controlled legislature and cabinet are intimidated by the fact that the legalizing medical marijuana may be left up to the voters rather than state lawmakers. Morgan has stated that “since I think Republicans are going to remain in control, I decided to let the people have the chance to decide whether they want to legalize medical marijuana”. However, this proposed amendment to the state’s constitution does not promote the complete decriminalization of pot. Instead, it allows individuals with chronic and often debilitating diseases to obtain prescriptions for marijuana that would be provided by licensed dispensaries.
More about Florida’s State Constitution
Florida’s state constitution can be amended by:
- Three-fifths of the state’s legislature voting for or against an amendment (both houses)
- A vote involving the Constitutional Revision Commission, an organization consisting of selected members comprising the Florida Attorney General’s Office and members hand-picked by Florida’s governor, the Speaker of Florida’s House of Representatives, the Florida Senate’s President and the Chief Justice presiding over Florida’s Supreme Court
- The Taxation and Budget Commission, which also consist of members chosen by Governor Rick Scott, the House Speaker and Senate President
- A voter initiative appearing as a proposed amendment on the ballot
- A voter-approved initiative that calls a “Constitutional Convention” for consideration of proposed amendments
If Morgan’s medical marijuana amendment appears on the November, 2014 ballot, it must be approved by at least 60 percent of registered Florida voters. It will then take another three months for the amendment to be implemented in the state’s constitution as a legal and permanent amendment.
Polls Suggest the Initiative Will Pass
Polling numbers continue to suggest that, as of now, Morgan would receive the number of signatures necessary to allow voters to decide whether they want the ability to access medical marijuana legally in their state of Florida. If this constitutional amendment does pass and residents with chronic diseases can use pot legally to treat symptoms that do not respond to pharmaceuticals, Florida will then need to develop laws regulating the operation of enough dispensaries to accommodate all areas of the state since the initiative does not allow for qualified patients to cultivate their own pot for medicinal purposes.
Video on John Morgan Campaign for Medical Marijuana in Florida
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