Possession of Marijuana Under 20 Grams
Update: Effective on 7/1/19, the State Hemp Program (2019 CS/CS/SB 1020) took effect. Now that hemp is legal under Florida law, criminal defense attorneys are fighting marijuana / cannabis cases more aggressively. Prosecutors are dropping charges because of bigger problems with the sniff / smell search, presumptive roadside tests for probable cause, or evidentiary problems with proving the THC level of the cannabis or marijuana (to distinguish it from legal hemp). Read more about why hemp is now legal in Florida.
Simply possession of marijuana often refers to the misdemeanor offense of possession of less than 20 grams. Twenty grams of weed is equal to less than an ounce (or 0.705479 of an ounce to be exact).
For misdemeanor cases of possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana, the arresting officer can either arrest the person for this crime or issue a “notice to appear” and release the person at the scene. In some jurisdictions, such as the City of Tampa, an officer with the Tampa Police Department has the discretion to either issue a civil citation or make an arrest for a criminal offense.
Many people assume that because they received a “Notice to Appear” without being formally arrested and booked into the jail that the charge is not as serious. Regardless of whether you were taken to jail or released at the scene with a notice, the charge is the same.
Possession of marijuana less than 20 grams is a criminal offense that comes with criminal penalties. The crime is charged as a first-degree felony that is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Additionally, any conviction for possession of marijuana comes with a two-year revocation of your driver’s license.
The collateral consequences that come with the criminal record can last a lifetime.
Attorney for Misdemeanor Marijuana Crimes in Tampa, FL
The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm are focused on criminal defense and fighting marijuana crimes. Jason Sammis is a Lifetime Member of the NORML Legal Committee, an organization that fights for the reform of marijuana laws in the State of Florida and throughout the country.
Jason Sammis and the other attorneys at the firm aggressively defend clients charged with misdemeanor possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis with the goal of achieving the best possible result for each client.
Call (813) 250-0500 today.
How Much is 20 Grams of Marijuana/
Twenty (20) grams of marijuana equals 0.705479 of an ounce of marijuana. In the United States, marijuana is often sold by the ounce including:
- 1/8 oz = 3.5 grams
- 1/4 oz = 7 grams
- 1/2 oz = 14 grams
- 1 oz = 28.35
When an officer takes the green leafy form of marijuana into evidence and weighs it, it is important to understand that the evidence tends to get lighter over time as the marijuana dries out.
In cases for possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, the criminal defense attorney can request that the evidence is reweighed which often results in a reduction in the charges.
Consequence to Your Driver’s License for Marijuana Charges
A conviction for possession of marijuana less than 20 grams under Florida law will result in a 2 year suspension of your driver’s license and dramatic increase in your auto insurance rates, without any possibility of a hardship or business purpose only driver’s license for the first year.
Any instance of driving during the first year will result in an additional delay in obtaining a business purpose only or hardship license for the duration of the suspension period. Additionally, a conviction for possession of marijuana less than 20 grams will cause a permanent blemish on your criminal record.
You can avoid any consequences to your driver’s license in one of the following ways:
- getting the prosecutor to drop the charges;
- entering a diversion program so the charges are dropped;
- getting the judge to dismiss the charges; or
- entering a plea to the charge but getting a withhold of adjudication.
The conviction for any marijuana charge is what triggers the driver’s license suspension.
The Diversion Programs for Possession of Cannabis – Are You Eligible?
Different counties in Florida (including Hillsborough County, Polk County, Pasco County, and Pinellas County) have different programs to help you avoid a misdemeanor conviction for possession of marijuana less than 20 grams. Those programs, however, can require up to one year of supervision with frequent random urine screens, community service, fines and costs, and other conditions.
If you have any prior record then you will typically not be eligible for the diversion program. Even if you are eligible, entering a diversion program may not be the right choice.
For certain professions, entering the diversion program for a drug charge can have serious consequences for your career. Nurses and other healthcare professionals, teachers and certified educators, members of law enforcement or the military, and even attorneys should seek legal advice before agreeing to a diversion program.
Florida Marijuana Attorneys for Less Than 20 Grams
If you have been arrested for the actual or constructive possession of cannabis in the Tampa Bay area, including Tampa, Hillsborough County, St. Petersburg or Clearwater, Pinellas County, Dade City or New Port Richey, Pasco County, or in Brooksville for Hernando County, then contact the Sammis Law Firm.
Speak directly with an experienced drug crime attorney about your charges for possession of cannabis less than 20 grams.
Call (813) 250-0500 to schedule an office or phone consultation today.
This article was last updated by Jason D. Sammis on Friday, January 19, 2018.