August 20, 2019
In the last decade, 11 states have legalized recreational marijuana use (as of July 2019) and many other states have legalized medical marijuana or decriminalized marijuana possession. Legalization has resulted in many advances in available forms of marijuana, including a product called THC oil.
To create this product, THC oil is extracted from the buds of the cannabis plant. Users can put cartridges of THC oil in vape pens and inhale the vapors. The effects of vaping marijuana are basically the same as smoking it, but marijuana users who are caught with vape cartridges face much harsher law enforcement penalties than those caught with marijuana bud in Florida.
Florida’s cannabis laws are in flux. Although the state is moving toward medical and recreational cannabis legalization, it has not yet done so. Until legalization occurs, anyone who uses THC and marijuana in Florida is committing a crime. This guide provides an overview of the possible charges and penalties associated with using or possessing marijuana products.
Medical and recreational marijuana use remains illegal in Florida as of July 2019. Florida labels cannabis a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning that its use is highly likely to result in abuse and it has not been approved for any medical use. Although this designation may change in the next few years, anyone who is caught possessing or selling marijuana faces misdemeanor or felony charges. A conviction on these charges can result in jail time and fines.
The penalties for possessing marijuana hinge on the amount of the plant a person has in their possession. Here is a breakdown of the different charges, possible jail sentences, and fines for possession:
- Possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana is the only cannabis-related charge that is classified as a misdemeanor; the rest are felonies. Those convicted of possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana face up to one year of jail time and up to a $1,000 fine.
- A conviction for possessing between 20 grams and 25 pounds carries up to a five-year jail sentence and up to a $5,000 fine.
- A conviction for possessing between 25 pounds and 2,000 pounds comes with a prison sentence ranging from three to 15 years and a maximum fine of $25,000.
- A conviction for possessing between 2,000 pounds and 10,000 pounds carries seven to 30 years of prison time and a maximum $50,000 fine.
- A conviction for possessing more than 10,000 pounds results in 15 years to 30 years in prison and up to a $200,000 fine.
- A conviction for possessing any amount of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, college, or public park carries a 15-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.
Those who are caught growing marijuana plants also face felony charges under Florida law. The law contains the following penalties when a person is convicted of possessing marijuana plants:
- Fewer than 25 plants carries up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
- Between 25 and 300 plants comes with a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and up to a $10,000 fine.
- Between 300 and 2,000 plants can result in three to 15 years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.
- 2,000 to 10,000 plants carries a seven to 30 year prison sentence and up to a $50,000 fine.
THC refers to tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive ingredient of cannabis. When it is extracted from the plant, THC is an oil. A vaporizer or vape pen applies heat to the oil, and users can inhale the resulting vapor. Vapor is not as thick or pungent as smoke, and many bars allow people to vape indoors. Although scientific evidence is not entirely clear on the subject, many believe vaping isn’t as harsh on the lungs as smoking. Vaping’s increasing popularity has not yet changed its legality in Florida, however.
Under Florida law, possessing any amount of THC oil is the same crime as possessing hashish or any other highly concentrated form of marijuana. Anyone arrested for this crime faces third degree felony charges. Upon conviction, a Florida court can order up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine–the same potential punishment for those who are convicted of possessing between 20 grams and 25 pounds of marijuana.
THC Oil versus CBD Oil
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has legalized growing and using industrial hemp. This change has made CBD (Cannabidiol) oil–a hemp extract –legal on a national level. Some confuse THC oil and CBD oil. Hemp is a type of cannabis plant that contains very small amounts of psychoactive THC. CBD oil users claim that the oil has many health benefits. Some forms of CBD oil can also be vaped. As of July 2019, CBD oils are legal to use under Florida law. A person cannot be charged with marijuana possession if they have CBD oil. Yet the similarity of CBD and THC oil can sometimes lead to law enforcement confusion and mistaken arrests or charges.
Are You Charged With Crimes Related to THC or Marijuana? Talk to a Drug Possession to Get More Information
If you were arrested or are charged with a crime for using or possessing THC oil or marijuana, contacting an experienced Florida drug defense attorney may help you get your case dismissed, or get a court to reduce your charges or penalties. A criminal conviction, even on drug charges, can cause collateral damage to your life over and above any formal penalties imposed by the court.
Khonsari Law Group
150 2nd Avenue North Suite 970
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Phone: (727) 269-5300