One of the most controversial topics of criminal justice on the national scene is the legalization of marijuana. It seems that every year, polls reveal that a larger and larger percentage of Americans support the unlimited legalization of cannabis. Yet our lawmakers at both the national and state stages refuse to take any action. The war on drugs is partly to blame for this lack of action, as years of labeling marijuana as a gateway drug make it difficult for some lawmakers to admit their mistakes. Special interests and lobbying are also to blame, as corporations want to be able to control the sale and distribution of cannabis and therefore desire complicated and restrictive laws that prohibit the normal layperson from participating in the marijuana industry.
Recently, Florida passed a constitutional amendment legalizing the sale and use of medicinal marijuana. In fact, over 60% of voters approved of the measure and medicinal legalization has begun in Florida, but not without hiccups. The law is changing in Florida and is hopefully moving in the right direction. Yet, non medicinal possession of marijuana is still illegal at the state and federal level and people are still arrested and charged with marijuana possession every day. If you’ve been charged with possession of cannabis, you should contact a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney right away.Medicinal Marijuana Laws
Although Florida’s medical marijuana amendment passed with overwhelming support from the electorate, our elected officials once again demonstrated how little they truly care about executing the will of the people. When asked to put laws in place to begin the rollout of the medical marijuana laws, our legislature put out the most restrictive set of laws possible. The original law prohibited smokable cannabis and only allowed the sale and distribution of low THC cannabis that was more complicated and expensive to produce. The law also restricted the type of people who were allowed to obtain medicinal licenses to those who suffered from illnesses like cancer.
Thankfully, the law has been challenged and eventually amended to allow for smokable cannabis along with expanding its availability to people who suffer from conditions like glaucoma, chronic pain, and post traumatic stress disorder. The medical benefits of cannabis are now beyond challenge and medicinal cannabis use should be expanded to even more patients in the future.Effects on the Criminal Justice System
One of the most immediate effects of the medicinal cannabis law has related to probationers. Those placed on probation are routinely prohibited from consuming illegal drugs while under supervision. Now that cannabis can be prescribed by doctors and is no longer an illegal drug, probationers who have a proper medical marijuana card can now consume cannabis while on probation. Anyone familiar with the criminal justice system knows that one of the most common violations of probation is for a dirty urine caused by cannabis. Now, those who require a cannabis prescription for any number of medical issues can avoid ending up in jail on a violation of probation. If you have a violation of probation for a dirty urine, you should contact an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer to aid in your defense.
The new medical cannabis law has also had some effects on the application of the fourth amendment. For years, police officers have used the odor of cannabis coming from a person or from within a vehicle to justify a search. Recently, this practice has been challenged by lawyers from around the state and seems to be making progress. Many prosecutors offices have stopped prosecuting cases like this and have even released guidelines to police agencies indicating that they need more than the simple odor of cannabis to justify a search.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
The lawyers at Hanlon Law are continuously educating themselves on the evolving criminal laws within the State of Florida. This allows us to be ahead of the game and ahead of the prosecution. Call us today for a consultation at 727.289.0222.