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How Will Valid Marijuana Medical Cards Change Criminal Charges?

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Florida residents who are on probation after a criminal conviction are subject to random drug screenings. Even if that person holds a valid medical marijuana card, they can sometimes face penalties if a drug test detects THC in their system. As of June of 2019, there were 237,729 Florida residents approved for medical marijuana use, which means it is highly likely some of these cardholders are on probation. With more than 200,000 people on probation in Florida, it is imperative that those who are considering obtaining a medical marijuana card know their legal rights.

Once a person has legally obtained a medical marijuana card, they are entered into Florida’s Compassionate Use Registry and law enforcement can easily verify that they are a legal cardholder. In many cases, once a person is properly registered, the court will no longer require drug testing for marijuana during their probationary period. However, this exemption will not spare that person from random tests for other drugs. If a test finds drugs other than marijuana in a probationer’s system, they will still face penalties for a probation violation.


Edibles versus Marijuana Bud in Florida

When Florida’s medical marijuana laws were passed, the state made no allowances for possessing marijuana in plant or bud form, only in the form of approved THC derivatives. This changed, however, in March 2019 when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law that allowed those with medical cards to smoke marijuana in addition to consuming edibles. Therefore a person with a valid medical marijuana card is no longer breaking the law when they possess marijuana bud.


Growing Marijuana Plants Is Illegal, Even for Medical Marijuana Cardholders

Even after passage of the new law in March 2019, medical marijuana patients are not permitted to grow their own marijuana plants, even if their doctor recommends that they do. A Florida appeals court made this clear in the case of Joseph Redner.

Mr. Redner, a medical marijuana patient, was told by his physician that his best treatment would be to “juice” the whole marijuana plant to get the maximum benefit from the plant. The trial court agreed he should be allowed to grow marijuana plants for his own use. The Florida Department of Health (the governing body over medical marijuana) appealed this decision, and an appeals court reversed the lower court’s ruling. The appeals court concluded that the Florida statutes governing medical marijuana use do not allow a patient to grow their own product, even for personal use. Instead, they only allow a licensed dispensary to grow and dispense marijuana to patients.


Florida Medical Conditions That Can Be Treated With Marijuana

Before obtaining a medical marijuana card, a person must have an underlying condition for which their physician is legally permitted to prescribe THC. Authorized Florida physicians may prescribe THC for a variety of conditions, including glaucoma, Parkinson’s Disease, PTSD, Crohns’ Disease, and AIDS, to name a few. Even if they have one of these conditions, however, a person who is seeking a medical marijuana card and is currently on probation should speak with their criminal defense attorney as they may need to receive permission from the judge who handled their case, as well as from their probation officer.


Florida Probation Violation Confusion

There is little doubt that the rules pertaining to medical marijuana use are confusing and contradictory. If you are currently on probation and you are randomly tested for drugs and found to have THC in your system, even if you have a medical marijuana card you could still be charged with a probation violation. Or if someone you are with is arrested in possession of marijuana without a medical card, even if you have a card a court might still find you in violation of your probation.

Medical marijuana patients who are concerned about a court finding them in violation of their probation should speak with a criminal defense attorney before they have any medical marijuana prescription filled. The attorney can speak with the District Attorney’s office for guidance, speak with your probation officer, and if necessary, attempt to get a court ruling pertaining to your individual case.


Criminal Charges and Probation Violations

Even if you have a medical marijuana card you are still subject to random drug testing for other drugs while on probation. Should you fail any drug test, you can be charged with a probation violation. Some drug tests are not accurate and may give false readings. The number of false readings may increase if you are currently a medical marijuana patient who has recently consumed edibles or smoked marijuana in any form.


Federal Law Is Not in Sync with Florida on Marijuana

It is also important for those who are on probation to remember that federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. People who are on probation for a federal offense may find it particularly complicated to get approval for the use of medical marijuana. And anyone with a medical marijuana card can still potentially face federal charges if they are caught on federal property or crossing a state border in possession of marijuana, whether or not they are on probation.


Contact Our St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you are currently on probation and you have been cited for a probation violation because you were found in possession of marijuana or failed a drug test, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. An attorney who has experience dealing with various drug charges as well as with probation violations can help you fight back against these charges.

Whether you are currently on probation or you are facing marijuana-related charges because you had marijuana products on your person and were arrested, contact Khonsari Law Group at (727) 269-5300 immediately. We will review the circumstances of your case and advise you about the best way to respond to the charges against you.

Khonsari Law Group
150 2nd Avenue North Suite 970
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Phone: (727) 269-5300

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