I want to talk a little about medical marijuana in it’s oil form that is commonly ingested through a vape pen or vaporizer. Even though a person who has a medical marijuana card to ingest marijuana will be fine if they have a vaporizer pen, if you don’t have a medical marijuana card, it’s still illegal in the state. Unfortunately, a lot of people do get arrested for even simple possession of marijuana.
One of the frustrating things from a defense attorney’s standpoint is that THC oil, although legal for medical purposes, is now a third degree felony if you possess it without a medical marijuana card. So people need to be aware that even though medical marijuana seems to be innocuous these days and everywhere, it’s still a felony in the State of Florida.
I can tell you from personal experience that people are getting arrested and they are being charged for felony possession of the THC oil if they do not possess a valid medical marijuana card.
Marijuana is a Schedule 1 substance under law in Florida, and that means that there is no accepted medical use. How we make sense of that, considering that we have a whole statute concerning the medical use of marijuana, is for another time and a much longer discussion.
But, to put it in perspective is the fact that a person who would possess THC oil, for instance - that’s a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Any mere possession of any drug besides marijuana is a third degree felony. Even possession of marijuana is only a misdemeanor if the amount is under 20 grams of cannabis. So, if someone were to possess:
Those are all third degree felonies and, unfortunately, treated the same way as marijuana in its oil form and marijuana if you were to possess over 20 grams of the substance.
If you would like to get a medical marijuana card, you need to have a listed condition and you need to have a doctor’s recommendation. The process is evolving and becoming quite easy for most of the people that I’ve had the opportunity to talk with.
Another interesting issue with the way that medical marijuana is affecting those who have availed themselves to the medical marijuana card is the issue of firearm ownership. Right now, because medical marijuana - or marijuana in any form - is illegal at the federal level, you cannot go out and purchase a firearm from an ATF sanctioned firearm dealer if you are a holder of a medical marijuana card. That is a situation that’s been taken up on the federal level in multiple different ways. Until the Federal Congress acts, it’ll probably remain that way.
In terms of the more localized laws, the concealed weapon permit issuance can be affected by medical marijuana. Recently, the latest election yielded a new agricultural commissioner, and the Commissioner of Agriculture is the entity that’s responsible for regulating concealed weapons permits.
It seems that that administration is going to be more progressive about allowing people that have a medical marijuana card to also still apply for and not have any consequences for their concealed weapons license. But people need to be aware that the way that the law is written, concealed weapons permits shall only be issued to those who would be otherwise eligible to possess a weapon under federal law.
Unfortunately, the schism between federal marijuana prohibition and legalization in Florida, and many of the states, causes all of these unintended consequences. Even though we live in a state that recognizes medical marijuana, right now there’s an issue against its smokable form:
People need to be aware of these things, not rest on the laurels of something that they read on a blog or have their own perception of through their friends. They are serious consequences for people, and we definitely enjoy helping those people when we have the opportunity.
If it’s not a way that we can challenge the stop - perhaps the police acted improperly when they pulled you over, perhaps they didn’t have probable cause to search your car - we welcome the opportunity to explore the constitutionality behind the statute under which a person is being charged. Please keep us in mind if you do have a charge out there concerning marijuana. We are happy to help.
Criminal Defense Attorney Tim Pribisco is a member of the NORML Legal Committee. NORML, or the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, is a nonprofit, public-interest lobby representing the interests of millions of Americans who seek to decriminalize the private possession and responsible use of marijuana by adults. You can find more information about NORML on their website.