The legal status of cannabis possession has slowly been changing around the U.S. and elsewhere in the western world, so if you travel a lot it’s possible you may not be aware whether accepting a joint is illegal or not . If you are in a social gathering and are offered a joint, you do need to be aware of the law. In Florida, accepting a joint means that you are in possession of a quantity of marijuana and that is still a crime. You won’t get away with it if you use ignorance as an excuse. So, what could be happen if you are caught red handed with a joint?
For a start, you do have to be caught with the joint by a police officer. If you are sitting on the beach or in a park and your friend has lit up but you are empty handed you can’t be charged with possession.
Civil offenses, not criminal offenses
Many counties and municipalities in Florida now have their own laws that make small quantities of cannabis, the amounts that might be expected to be present in an average joint, civil citations, rather than criminal offenses. In Miami-Dade, for example, anything less than 20 grams of cannabis could mean a civil citation being handed out. At worst, this means $100 in fines or two days community service like a beach clean-up.
State law as it applies to marijuana
Florida law treats marijuana as a “controlled substance.” There is a difference between genuine use for medical purposes and recreational use. The medicinal use of marijuana has been legal in Florida since 2016, but this doesn’t extend to smoking a joint that a friend has passed on to you! Under Florida law, the possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis, again typical of what might be found in a single joint, is a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, the person could be jailed for up to a year and pay a fine of up to $1,000. There are other negative consequences of accepting a joint and being caught with it. You may have your driver’s license suspended and you will now have a criminal record. It is probably the last penalty that could have the greatest long term effect.
Federal law on marijuana
Federal law is actually supposed to over-ride state law on controlled substances like marijuana. However, where there is a direct discrepancy between state legalization for recreational use of marijuana as there is in Washington and Colorado and federal law, it appears that here has been no appetite for federal law enforcers to take action over the possession of small quantities of dope.
Legal disparity is a problem
The fact that there is now a growing disparity between different states, as well as between state and federal law and even within individual states between state law and that of smaller jurisdictions, is a problem for law enforcers as much as for those who are caught with the odd joint. If you do smoke marijuana or are prepared to take the risk when you accept a joint from someone else, you should know what the consequences could be if you are caught, as they will depend on where you were caught and who you were caught by.
If you have been arrested for possession of a controlled substance, or you have been given a citation and wish to fight the charge against you, contact the Miami based Law Firm of Albert Quirantes Esq. You can reach his office at 305-644-1800.
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For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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