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marijuana Laws: Changes on the Horizon in Florida

Opinion polls show the majority of Americans favor decriminalization of marijuana. You would not know that to look at Courtrooms and jails in Florida.

As I write this blog entry, somewhere in Florida, some kid is being arrested for having a joint on them and may spend a few hours (or days) in a jail cell. Somewhere, the police dogs are chewing up their reward treat after "alerting" on an ounce of personal use marijuana. And today, a Judge in some County probably sent someone to jail--if not prison--for smoking marijuana. Under Florida law, if convicted, that person loses their driving privileges too. Hard to believe that while this is going on, people are openly smoking the same herb in Colorado and other States; they are openly buying it and society as we know it has not collapsed into drug induced anarchy.

Thanks to the efforts of attorney John Morgan, it appears Florida voters may decide on medical marijuana this November. With Colorado "blazing" the way with legalized recreational marijuana generating billions of dollars, I suspect more and more States will look to marijuanas a lucrative solution to economic downturn.

Personally, I sincerely hope Florida Voters legalize medical marijuana. Going further, I hope more and more States, including Florida, legalize the use of the drug for recreational purposes. I do believe medical and recreational marijuana usage will be legalized, throughout the United States, within the next ten years. Many of our clients have asked me about my opinion on this issue and some have even joked it might hurt lawyers financially.

My response is that Delgado & Romanik helps people who have been accused of committing crimes or have been injured or wronged by others. There will always be people accused of real crimes and people who are really in need of representation. Our justice system would serve everyone better if we focused on the real wrongs in society and not on criminalizing conduct most people condone.

The Backlash: marijuana and DUI Laws

There is a very real danger I expect to follow closely on the heels of any reform of the marijuana laws. States are already refocusing their driving under the influence ("DUI") laws to prosecute DWS ("driving while stoned"). Every year Florida lawmakers are asked to reconsider our current DUI laws, usually to make them stricter.

Recently, there has been a call to reduce the presumptive impairment levels for blood alcohol from 0.08g/210l to 0.05g/210l - not too long ago the "cut off" was 0.10g/210l. This year law makers will also consider Florida SB1810 which would create "strict liability" for anyone with a low level or trace level of marijuana in their system. This flies in the face of studies and science on connecting drug metabolite (by products of marijuana being processed through the body) levels to actually being unable to drive, but it makes for sexy politics particularly when voters may legalize medical marijuana. It means a person who smokes marijuana on Friday and is suspected of DUI days later would be automatically guilty. This Bill is an abomination and everyone reading this blog should call, write, email or speak in person to their state legislator and tell them so.

If laws like this pass, the criminal landscape will change forever and not in a good way. It will be the challenges these laws represent that will require experienced and aggressive attorneys to take up the fight for their clients. Attorneys throughout Florida will need to quickly prepare new strategies and defenses; the best attorneys are not waiting for this change to come, they are anticipating it, preparing for it and learning from their fellow attorneys in other states how to continue to win for their clients.

At Delgado & Romanik, our attorneys, through memberships in national organizations like the National College of DUI Defense and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

If you have any questions about your legal rights or need an aggressive, experienced and accomplished team of trial attorneys to fight for you, please contact us through our website at www.communitylawfirm.com or call 386-255-1400.

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