Marijuana Possession, Use and Sale Remain Federally Illegal, Though Enforcement Is Spotty

Each state has its own marijuana laws. If you are arrested, you need to know which laws are applicable to your case.

In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to legalize, regulate and tax recreational possession of cannabis. The laws in those states permit a person 21 years of age to buy up to one ounce of the drug at authorized storefronts. These existing laws are close cousins to laws regulating the use of alcohol and nicotine: smokers may not smoke in public, employees may not work under the influence and states may have blood test limits relating to driving under the influence.

Since the advent of medical marijuana use, many states have limited forms of punishment for possession of cannabis to a small fine. California took the lead to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1996 and gave the nod to storefront dispensaries in 2004.

In 2014, 21 states and Washington, D.C. have laws in place allowing residents to use the drug for medical reasons. Florida is not one of those states.

Medical use may include smoking cannabis for cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, intractable pain and severe nausea. More than 30 million people across the United States use cannabis as prescribed by a physician and under the wing of the appropriate state legislation.

Despite what state laws may allow, marijuana use, growth, sale and distribution is still illegal under federal law. Cannabis is classified as a dangerous drug offering no medical benefits. Therefore, possessing marijuana, no matter what laws exist in your state, is federally illegal. However, those laws are rarely enforced due to lack of federal personnel who consider it a high priority.

The federal government has often looked the other way, effectively allowing state-regulated marijuana sales to flourish. But in some cases, the government has decided to challenge state laws, suggesting that they are pre-empted by existing federal law. Penalties may be used to bring states back into line with the federal position, including withholding funds for states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

The laws relating to marijuana vary depending on where you live, and they are constantly in a state of flux. If you live in Orlando and are arrested for hash or cannabis offenses, you need a criminal defense attorney to mitigate or attempt to get your case thrown out of court, to ensure that you retain your driver’s license, to negotiate for probation where possible and to attempt to reduce prison time if the case has solid evidence.

Thomas C .Grajek is a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, Lakeland, and Polk County Florida. To contact a Lakeland criminal defense lawyer or to learn more, visit http://www.flcrimedefense.com/ or call 863-688-4606.

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