Is medical marijuana legal in Florida? While many Jacksonville criminal attorneys state that it is not, one law firm has allegedly advised clients that it is. As stands, Florida Statute Section 893.13 makes it a misdemeanor to possess less than 20 grams of marijuana in Florida. If you possess 20 grams or more, you will be arrested for a felony. Florida’s drug laws also prohibit the cultivation and distribution of cannabis. As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, I do not want my clients possessing marijuana, because I do not want them to get arrested. Like many other attorneys, I do not want to ever put my client in a position that would lead to his or her arrest. It is my job to work in his or her best interest. If my clients are arrested, I want them to ask to speak to their attorney before answering any questions. Again, this is usually in their best interests, as I do not want their words to be misconstrued.
I would not advise my clients to possess, transport, or grow marijuana for any reason, even if used for medical purposes, because I would not want them to be in a position in which they would have to defend themselves in court. If my client were arrested due to possessing medical marijuana, one defense that may be used is the medical necessity defense. I discussed this defense on the Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer’s website in an article titled, Florida Medical Necessity Defense to Marijuana Charges. As I stated in the article, you must fulfill certain elements to use the medical necessity defense in Florida criminal courts. If you are permitted to present the defense of medical necessity, it is still up to the judge or jury to make the determination. This is not a position that a person wants to be in. If you are placed in this position, you need to speak with a Jacksonville criminal attorney about defending your case.
I read an article yesterday about “a Jacksonville law firm’s claim that marijuana is already legal as medicine in Florida.” The Orlando Sentinel reported:
“Health Law Services, formally incorporated as IJC Law Group, is telling clients that Florida’s alternative health-care laws already say that doctors can prescribe otherwise-illegal drugs such as marijuana if they determine it is the only practical medicine for the patient. So, the firm argues, Florida does not need to change the law or impose a constitutional amendment to make marijuana a legal treatment. ‘It is clear that our Florida statute allows for the lawful possession of cannabis if somebody is in the possession of a prescription,’ said Christopher Ralph, legal administrator at Health Law Services. The firm arranges, for $799, to send clients to doctors. If they find a medical necessity, the firm provides a letter certifying that the client has received a marijuana prescription and warning law enforcement officers against violating the client’s rights.”
Does this mean that people with a letter from a Jacksonville law firm will not be arrested if found in possession of cannabis? Can people grow marijuana? Will you be able to possess large quantities of marijuana without being arrested for trafficking marijuana in Jacksonville? No. That is not what it means. The Orlando Sentinel further stated:
“[This] legal interpretation and approach has led to arrests of Health Law Service clients. And it has brought rebukes from other medical marijuana advocates who say the law firm is giving people bad legal advice that could land them in prison. ‘They are misleading clients and the public into believing that citizens have a right to use marijuana medicinally, when all they have is the right to assert that as a legal defense in court of law after they have been arrested and prosecuted.’”
The bottom line is that no one wants to be arrested on drug charges. No one wants to go to jail. No one wants to pay a criminal defense attorney. No one wants to go to trial. When people hire me, they are not having a good day. They are facing a very troubling time and need help, guidance, and support. It is not a position that you would wish upon anyone. I would not want to say or do anything to put them in this predicament. If they are in this position, I want to help them out as quickly as possible. If someone is arrested for marijuana charges, “Florida law does provide for a medical-necessity defense, but it is a tough sell to prosecutors, judges and juries…. That defense was used to win a felony marijuana possession trial in Broward County this month. Other cases have led prosecutors to drop charges. But other attempts have sent people to prison.”