Medical marijuana was legalized in Florida in 2016 as a Constitutional Amendment approved by over 70 percent of voters. Since that time, medical marijuana has become a big business in the state. The relationship between state and federal law, however, remains a potential minefield for both state-certified distributors and others who sell or distribute medical marijuana in Florida. If you have been charged with a crime for distributing medical marijuana, you need to understand the charges against you as well as your potential defenses. At Haas Law, we have the experience, skills, and resources necessary to successfully defend you and protect your rights as a defendant in a medical marijuana distribution prosecution.
Florida Medical Marijuana Laws
Although medical marijuana was legalized in 2016, everything about the medical marijuana business remains tightly regulated and controlled by the state. Florida Statute 381.986 governs the cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of medical marijuana in the State of Florida. That statute makes it legal for properly licensed growers to cultivate marijuana and certified distributors to sell marijuana products to patients who have a state-approved medical marijuana prescription card. Distribution of medical marijuana without a valid license to do so remains a crime in Florida and may be charged as a third degree felony or higher, depending on factors such as the amount involved, the participants, and where the crime occurred. A conviction for distributing marijuana can carry up to 30 years in prison and/or a hefty fine.
Federal Medical Marijuana Distribution Laws
As of 2021, medical marijuana has been legalized in 36 states, four out of five permanently inhabited U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Nevertheless, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under U.S. federal law. As such, the cultivation, distribution, and possession of any amount of marijuana (medical or otherwise) continue to be illegal according to federal law. Although there is an unofficial agreement between federal law enforcement agencies and states that have legalized medical marijuana to not pursue federal criminal charges relating to medical marijuana, the fact remains that the distribution of marijuana is still illegal under federal law. In other words, you could have a perfectly valid license, issued by the appropriate state licensing authorities, to distribute medical marijuana in Florida and simultaneously be in violation of serious federal laws. Moreover, the potential penalties for a marijuana distribution conviction at the federal level are significant, including:
- Less than 50 kilograms of marijuana or less than 49 marijuana plants. Up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 (first offense) or up to ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to $500,000 (second offense) for an individual. The fines increase to $1 million and $2 million respectfully if the defendant is a company or organization.
- 50 to 99 kilograms of a marijuana mixture or 50 to 99 marijuana plants. Up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1 million (first offense) and up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2 million (second offense). For a company or organization, the potential fines increase to $5 million and $10 million.
- 100 to 999 kilograms of a marijuana mixture or 100 to 999 marijuana plants. Minimum of five years and not more than 40 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5 million (first offense) and not less than 10 years up to life in prison and/or a fine of up to $8 million. The potential fine is increased to $25 million or $50 million respectively for a company or organization.
- 1,000 kilograms or more of a marijuana mixture or 1,000 or more marijuana plants. 10 years to life in prison and/or a fine of up to $10 million (first offense) and not less than 20 years up to life in prison and/or a fine of up to $20 million. For a company or organization, the potential fines increase to $50 million and $75 million.
Defending a Medical Marijuana Distribution Charge
If you have been charged with medical marijuana distribution, or you have reason to believe you are under investigation for distributing medical marijuana, you need an experienced attorney on your side as soon as possible to protect your rights. Given the complex and ever-changing marijuana laws, and the conflict between state and federal law, the need to get an experienced attorney on your side immediately is particularly great in a medical marijuana distribution prosecution. The defense strategy chosen in your case will depend on the unique facts and circumstances of your arrest and subsequent prosecution.
Get Help from An Experienced Medical Marijuana Distribution Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with the distribution of medical marijuana in state or federal court, or you believe you are the target of a medical marijuana distribution investigation, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
A medical marijuana distribution defense attorney at Haas Law will protect your rights as a suspect and/or as a defendant in a state or federal marijuana distribution case. The earlier we are contacted, the sooner we can begin working on your defense.
Call us at 407-755-7675, chat with us online, or submit our online form today. Because we understand that time is of the essence when federal law enforcement authorities are investigating you, our calls are answered 24 hours a day, allowing you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.