With the passage of House Bill 173, otherwise known as the Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act, in 2008, Florida Statute § 893.02(5) defined cultivating as “the preparation of any soil or hydroponic medium for the planting of a controlled substance or the tending and care or harvesting of a controlled substance.” Cultivation usually refers, quite simply, to the growing or manufacture of marijuana.
In 2011, the Sun-Sentinel reported that more marijuana grow houses—the indoor locations where cannabis is cultivated—were seized in Florida than in any other state in the nation. Not only have law enforcement agencies increasingly focused on cracking down on alleged grow houses and cultivation activities in the Sunshine State, but lawmakers have also enacted steep penalties for the people convicted of these crimes.
Lawyer for Marijuana Cultivation / Grow Houses in West Palm Beach, FL
Were you arrested or do you think that you might be under investigation for allegedly cultivating cannabis or operating a grow house in South Florida? Do not speak to authorities unless you have legal representation. Contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A. as soon as possible.
West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell aggressively defend individuals accused of all types of alleged marijuana crimes in communities throughout Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and Palm Beach County, including Royal Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, and many others. Call (561) 557-8686 today to have our lawyers review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.
Overview of Marijuana Cultivation / Grow House Arrests in Palm Beach County
- What are the consequences of being convicted of cannabis cultivation?
- How did the Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act impact criminal charges for property owners in grow house cases?
- Where can I learn more about marijuana cultivation and grow houses in West Palm Beach?
Marijuana Cultivation Penalties in Florida
Cannabis is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. Florida Statute § 893.13(1) establishes that it is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 if an alleged offender manufactures or cultivates marijuana in Florida.
Cultivation of cannabis charges, however, can be enhanced to a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if the alleged offense occurs in, on, or within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising any of the following:
- A child care facility between the hours of 6 a.m. and 12 midnight;
- A public or private elementary, middle, or secondary school between the hours of 6 a.m. and 12 midnight;
- A state, county, or municipal park;
- A community center (meaning “a facility operated by a nonprofit community-based organization for the provision of recreational, social, or educational services to the public”);
- A publicly owned recreational facility;
- A public or private college, university, or other postsecondary educational institution;
- A physical place for worship at which a church or religious organization regularly conducts religious services;
- A convenience business (meaning “any place of business that is primarily engaged in the retail sale of groceries, or both groceries and gasoline, and that is open for business at any time between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.”);
- A public housing facility; or
- An assisted living facility (meaning “any building or buildings, section or distinct part of a building, private home, boarding home, home for the aged, or other residential facility, whether operated for profit or not, which undertakes through its ownership or management to provide housing, meals, and one or more personal services for a period exceeding 24 hours to one or more adults who are not relatives of the owner or administrator”).
When an alleged marijuana cultivation offense exceeds a certain threshold amount, the alleged offender can be charged with trafficking in cannabis. Marijuana trafficking crimes are first-degree felony offenses that are punishable as follows:
- More than 25 pounds, but less than 2,000 pounds, or 300 or more cannabis plants, but not more than 2,000 cannabis plants — Mandatory minimum of three years up to 30 years in prison and/or fine of up to $25,000;
- 2,000 pounds or more, but less than 10,000 pounds, or 2,000 or more cannabis plants, but not more than 10,000 cannabis plants — Mandatory minimum of seven years in prison and/or fine of up to $50,000;
- 10,000 pounds or more, or 10,000 or more cannabis plants — Mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and/or fine of up to $200,000.
Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act Penalties in West Palm Beach
The Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act also amended Florida Statute § 893.1351 to prohibit people from owning or actually or constructively possessing a place, structure, trailer, or other described place with knowledge that the place will be used to manufacture, sell, or traffic in marijuana. The Act also provided that possession of 25 or more cannabis plants—regardless of their stage of growth—constitutes prima facie evidence of intent to sell or distribute.
Under this statute, possession of a place for trafficking in or manufacturing of marijuana such as a grow house can result in the following criminal charges:
- Third-degree felony to own, lease, or rent any place, structure, or part thereof, trailer, or other conveyance with the knowledge that the place, structure, trailer, or conveyance will be used for the purpose of trafficking in, the sale of, or the manufacture of cannabis intended for sale or distribution to another;
- Second-degree felony to knowingly be in actual or constructive possession of any place, structure, or part thereof, trailer, or other conveyance with the knowledge that the place, structure, or part thereof, trailer, or conveyance will be used for the purpose of trafficking in, the sale of, or the manufacture of marijuana intended for sale or distribution to another; or
- First-degree felony to be in actual or constructive possession of a place, structure, trailer, or conveyance with the knowledge that the place, structure, trailer, or conveyance is being used to manufacture cannabis intended for sale or distribution to another and knowing or having should have known that a minor is present or resides in the place, structure, trailer, or conveyance.
Florida Marijuana Cultivation / Grow House Resources
Grow Houses | Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition — The Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization comprised of concerned citizens and members of private and public businesses who work together to reduce the use of alcohol, drugs, and other controlled substances among children. View a report from the organization that discusses the community impact of marijuana grow houses, damage caused by grow houses, and identifying grow houses. You can also learn how to report a potential grow house.Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition
2300 High Ridge Rd.
Boynton Beach, FL 33426
2015 Annual Report | Florida’s Domestic Marijuana Eradication (DME) Program — View the full text of this April 2016 report from the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement. According to the report, “seizures of marijuana from indoor grow sites continued to outpace seizures from outdoor grow sites” in 2015. Statistics are broken down by county, and Palm Beach County had the third-highest totals in the state for the number of indoor sites, plants seized, and arrests.
Meltzer & Bell, P.A. | West Palm Beach Marijuana Cultivation / Grow Houses Defense Attorney
If you think that you could be under investigation or you were already arrested in South Florida for allegedly operating a grow house or cultivating cannabis, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. can examine whether any of your rights were violated in the handling of your case and fight to possibly get the criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are criminal defense lawyers in West Palm Beach who represent clients in Boynton Beach, Wellington, Riviera Beach, Lake Worth, Greenacres, and many surrounding areas of Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Miami-Dade County. They can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (561) 557-8686 or complete an online form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.