Overview of Florida’s Criminal Laws on Vaping Marijuana
Vaping marijuana is popular across the US, with many medical marijuana patients and recreational users alike choosing to use it through battery-powered vape pens. While there have been recent efforts to legalize it, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance in Florida – no matter what method you employ for consumption. Possession is still a crime and the penalties are harsh, including long imprisonment terms, fines, and other consequences that come with having a permanent criminal record.
However, you may not be aware of the subtle, unique ways in which the statute applies when you’re vaping pot. You could be charged with multiple drug crimes, which increases your potential punishment significantly. It’s important to work with an experienced Florida drug possession defense lawyer if you were arrested, but you can also review some important background information.
Florida Drug Possession Charges for Vaping: The key to state statutes on vaping marijuana lies in the compound that’s the primary active ingredient in cannabis: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This substance is a component present in many forms of marijuana, but certain possession laws in Florida only apply to a very narrow definition – the rough, unprocessed marijuana buds and plants. A violation of the statute could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on whether you have more than 20 grams in your possession.
Cannabis concentrates, including the refined THC oils that are used in vape pens, fall under a separate statute. If you’re arrested for possession of any amount of THC, the offense is – at minimum – a Third Degree Felony. For a conviction, you face:
- Up to five years in prison and/or on probation;
- A maximum fine of $5,000; and,
- A suspension of your driving privileges for a minimum of six months.
You Could Also Be Charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: In addition to possession of THC oil, you could also be charged with possession of the pen that it comes in. Florida’s law on drug paraphernalia includes a laundry list of items that are illegal if they’re used to consume, ingest, smoke, inject, inhale, manufacture, measure, weigh, or engage in other acts associated with drug use. If arrested for drug paraphernalia, the crime is a First Degree Misdemeanor – the most serious type of misdemeanor under state law. Your punishment for a conviction may include:
- Up to one year incarceration;
- A year on probation; and,
- A fine up to $1,000.
Because it’s a separate crime, possession of drug paraphernalia is also punished separately if you’re convicted. That means your jail sentence could be in addition to the other penalties you face for possession of THC oil.
Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney About Drug Possession Charges
You might think that a marijuana possession charge is a minor legal issue, but the penalties are more serious than you might expect. Vaping pot is a crime, and police aggressively pursue those who break the law. To learn more about your options for fighting the charges, please contact the offices of Fort Lauderdale drug possession attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can set up a consultation to review your circumstances and determine an appropriate defense strategy.