Cannabis is a plant that grows naturally in many parts of the world. Though not indigenous to the Palm Beach area, it is warm enough here to grow. People have ingested marijuana for centuries, both by smoking it and by eating it. Studies have shown its casual use to have few negative health effects, and that the substance to have a low level of addiction. It has even been shown to have positive effects for people with painful medical conditions.
However, both state and federal law ban the sale, cultivation and even possession of marijuana, sometimes spelled "marihuana," and called “pot” and “weed.” Conviction on any offense could lead to time in jail, and have a serious effect on your ability to get a job or a student loan.
If you face any type of charges relating to cannabis, whether state or federal, misdemeanor or felony, a West Palm Beach marijuana defense lawyer from Meltzer & Bell, P.A. can assist you. We are a former prosecutor and public defender who have teamed up to fight for the rights of those accused of cannabis-related crimes. You will always have an experienced criminal defense attorney working on your case.
Call us today at (561) 945-8484 to set up a free consultation. We serve those facing charges in Palm Beach County, including those arrested in Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Royal Palm Beach, Greenacres, and Wellington. We are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
We also represent clients in Broward County and Miami-Dade County.
Marijuana is, by far, the most popular and most used controlled substance in Palm Beach County. Because of how common it is, the law treats cannabis as somewhat different than other illegal substances. While possession of even a very small amount of any other narcotic can be charged with a felony, possession of a very small amount of marijuana can a misdemeanor.
If the prosecutor can prove you possessed less than 20 grams of cannabis, under Florida Statutes Annotated § 893.13(6)(a), the charge is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
That is a very small amount of marijuana — less than three quarters of an ounce. It also includes all parts of the plant that prosecutors can prove you possessed. Any more is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Misdemeanor cannabis convictions can result in jail time, fines, and, sometimes, worst of all, a possible 2-year loss of your driving privileges. Even walking down the street with .1 gram of marijuana in your pocket, if convicted, will definitely result in a loss of your privilege to operate a motor vehicle in this state for 2 full years!
In addition to possession, Florida marijuana offenses include:
Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia: Marijuana paraphernalia can include bongs, rolling papers, water pipes and anything used to ingest cannabis. It could also be scales, baggies, hydroponic equipment and anything used to sell or cultivate marihuana. It is a first degree misdemeanor under § 893.135.
Possession With the Intent to Distribute: Distribution can mean the sale or attempt to sell marijuana. Prosecutors can use a wide range of evidence to prove intent to deal pot or weed. This can include the way the marijuana is packaged, any paraphernalia allegedly found with you, any large amounts of cash or your alleged behavior.
Cultivation of marijuana can also lead to distribution charges. According to under Florida Statutes Annotated § 893.13, it is a third degree felony.
Trafficking Cannabis: Possession of more than 25 pounds of marijuana for the purpose of sale or cultivation can lead to trafficking charges under Florida Statutes Annotated § 893.135. Trafficking charges bring mandatory minimum sentences that depend on the amount prosecutors can prove you possessed. Between 25 and 2,000 pounds results in a minimum three-year sentence and a $25,000 fine. Penalties can go up to a 15-year minimum sentence and a $200,000 fine for five tons or more.
Cannabis is illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act — even the possession. Possession is a misdemeanor. However, convictions for second or subsequent offense result in escalating penalties. Possession charges may result from being arrested in an airport or a federal facility.
Federal officials, including the Drug Enforcement Agency, tend to be interested in pursuing cannabis trafficking offenses. Like under state law, trafficking charges carry mandatory minimum sentences that increase with larger amounts. Between 100 and 999 kilograms or between 100 and 999 plants results in a minimum sentence of five years and a fine of up to $5 million. More results in a minimum sentence of 10 years and a fine up to $10 million.
Federal accusations are heard in Paul G. Rogers Federal Courthouse in West Palm Beach, or one of the other four federal courthouses in the area. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we are licensed to practice in the Southern U.S. District of Florida, which includes Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County and Broward County.
All marijuana charges should be treated very seriously. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., you will find a skilled West Palm Beach cannabis defense lawyer who will fight for your rights. We will work hard to have your charges reduced or dismissed, challenging the evidence the prosecutors bring forth and vigorously cross-examining their witnesses. Call today at (561) 945-8484 to set up a consultation.