Is It Legal To Eat Edible Marijuana In Florida?
Individuals who are caught in possession of edible marijuana may be arrested and face serious penalties. In this blog post, we explore edibles and the criminal charges associated with their unauthorized use.
Edibles are becoming an increasingly popular method of ingesting cannabis in Florida, especially for clinical use. Although the use of edibles is technically permitted by Florida state law for individuals with a valid medical marijuana card, edible marijuana is nevertheless illegal for recreational use.
What Are Edibles?
The term edible is used to describe food or drinks that contain marijuana in a form that can be ingested. In many cases, edibles are cooked or manufactured in the form of baked goods, such as cookies, or sweets, like gummies and chocolate bars.
While marijuana is commonly smoked or vaporized, some marijuana users prefer to consume cannabis in edible form. Edibles are helpful for medical marijuana patients, especially the elderly and children, who want to avoid harmful effects of inhaling smoke.
In order for edibles to actually be edible, marijuana must be in a form that can be used for baking or cooking. To do this, marijuana is ground up into a flour that can be infused with oil or butter used during cooking. Once the marijuana has been ground, it can be added to liquids such as coffee, as well as baked goods, sweets and meat. While some people may use recipes to make their own edibles, legally licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Florida have started to sell commercially manufactured edibles.
Unlike smoking marijuana or vaporizing it, the effects of an edible will only take place after digestion. The process could take anywhere up to an hour before any effects of the drug are experienced.
Are Edibles Illegal In Florida?
Edible medical marijuana is technically permitted by Florida state law. However, the state’s department of health has not yet finalized regulations regarding commercially manufactured edibles.
Florida is one of 29 states to legalize the use of medical marijuana. Since medical marijuana laws were enacted in 2016, Florida’s medical marijuana program has grown to over 200,000 registered medical marijuana patients who are treated by more than 2,000 licensed physicians.
Still, marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug by federal law, and recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in the state of Florida. Those caught in possession of marijuana without a valid medical marijuana card will be arrested and charged with drug possession. This also includes the possession of edibles - even those purchased legally in another state.
What Are The Criminal Penalties For Edibles In Florida?
In Florida, a number of drug arrests have been made for the possession of edible marijuana. However, charges for possession of edibles may be heftier than possession of the marijuana flower. For example, some individuals caught with edibles have been charged with possession of a “synthetic cannabinoid,” which is a third degree felony.
The criminal penalties for possession of edibles depends on the total weight of the substance. When it comes to edibles, many individuals believe that authorities will only weigh the amount of THC within the edible, but they are mistaken. In actuality, authorities take the weight of the entire edible - whether it be gummies, chocolate or baked goods - into account when determining charges.
The penalties for possession of an edible, determined by weight, are as follows:
- 280 - 500 grams: Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years, and a fine of $50,000
- 500 - 1000 grams: Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 7 years, and a fine of $100,000
- 1,000 - 30 kilograms: Mandatory prison sentence of 15 years, and a fine of $200,000
- 30+ kilograms: Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years, and a fine of $750,000
Common Defenses For Edible Possession In Florida
The penalties for possessing edible marijuana can be severe, which is why hiring the right drug lawyer to handle your case is so important. A good criminal defense attorney will be able to look at the facts of your case, and develop a legal strategy to protect your constitutional rights.
If you have been arrested for possessing edible marijuana, you may be able to raise the following defenses:
Illegal Search and Seizure
In many cases, law enforcement may go beyond their authority to search a vehicle, house, or person for drugs. In other instances, law enforcement may use their position of authority to coerce someone into consenting to a search. In either case, the results of illegal searches may lead to the suppression of evidence obtained during the search.
Lack of Knowledge
You may also be able to raise a defense that you did not know the food or drink in your possession was an edible. To raise this defense, you would have to testify to demonstrate your lack of knowledge about the true nature of the food or beverage you possessed.
If you take temporary possession of an edible, you may be able to raise a temporary possession defense. This defense strategy may be raised in situations in which a person has only momentary possession of an edible. In order to have legal “possession,” a person needs to have complete dominion and control over the edible.
Hiring A Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer
Because drug charges and penalties vary based on the specific facts, you should not attempt to navigate your case without the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can craft a defense on your behalf and potentially reduce your penalty for edible possession.
At Salnick & Fuchs, P.A. we are equipped to present a strong legal case on your behalf. Please contact us if you have any questions about the law or if you’ve been charged with a drug offense.