Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer

Is cannabis being decriminalized in Florida?

If you've been stopped with cannabis in the past, you know that you can face some fines and charges for doing so. However, since 2015, the laws in Florida have changed to start decriminalizing marijuana, helping prevent many people from being imprisoned over using the drug. Thanks to changes in the laws, most personal stops for cannabis usage result in fines or drug education, not time in jail.

In November 2015, Broward County issued an ordinance addressing marijuana usage in the county. The ordinance states that law enforcement officers have the right to use their discretion when it comes to citing others for the use of marijuana. The officer can give a civil citation to a non-violent person without past felonies or if the individual has fewer than 20 grams of marijuana. Officers are also allowed to consider the packaging and if the marijuana was intended to be sold in their decision on how to handle the situation.

Over the course of a person's life, police are able to issue three citations. The first, second, and third all come with fines of $100, $250, and $500, respectively. On top of this, there is the goal of screening the individuals for substance abuse, dependency, and the need for social support. If an officer screens the person, he can assess the needs of that individual and whether or not education would be of help. This is most commonly performed for those with second or third citations.

Finally, officers are also able to suggest community service in lieu of fines, which can help those who may struggle to pay the fines otherwise.

Source: Florida Association of Counties, "Decriminalization of cannabis," accessed April 06, 2016

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