Two years ago, Floridians overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, and since then, more than 1000,000 prescriptions for the drug have been written. And yet, Miami drug crime defense lawyers know arrests for recreational use and possession have been soaring statewide.
In Sarasota county, for instance, Sarasota Magazine reports arrests for recreational use of the drug shot up by 35 percent in 2017 compared to 2010. Marijuana arrests rates this year suggest the trend is continuing on an upward swing. The county sheriff insists those figures are misleading because marijuana in most cases was a secondary offense, meaning those individuals weren’t directly targeted for recreational marijuana use. There is some evidence to dispute this. But while some areas such as Broward and Miami-Dade have made it more of a civil infraction than a criminal offense, police still have a wide amount of discretion when deciding whether to make an arrest or issue a ticket or warning. Some expect it could take another decade or more before Florida legalizes recreational marijuana.
In the meantime, a first-time arrest for possession of marijuana won’t lead to a criminal conviction, but defendants often are required to go through a diversion program that can cost hundreds of dollars in fines and other costs, probation, substance abuse counseling and community service. Continue reading