Possession of Marijuana in Florida (Penalties & Defense)

David Weisselberger | November 26, 2023

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In the multifaceted legal terrain of marijuana possession in Florida, understanding the nuances of possession, potential penalties, and available defenses is crucial. This article delves into the intricacies of possession, shedding light on the potential penalties individuals may face and the array of defenses available to them.

Whether it's the possession of 20 grams of marijuana or being involved in cannabis-related incidents, this exploration aims to provide a thorough understanding of the legal framework surrounding marijuana possession in Florida.

What Is Possession of Marijuana in Florida?

what is possession of marijuana in florida

According to Florida Statute Section 893.13(6) Possession of marijuana in Florida refers to the knowing or intentional control of the substance within the state's legal jurisdiction. This legal concept encompasses various degrees and consequences based on the quantity of marijuana involved. 

In Florida, a standard threshold for possession charges is the possession of 20 grams of weed or less, serving as a pivotal factor in determining the severity of legal repercussions.

The act of possession involves both knowledge and intent, implying that individuals are aware of the presence of marijuana and intentionally exercise control over it. This can manifest in various scenarios, from having marijuana on one's person to controlling it within a residence or vehicle.

What Are Penalties for Cannabis Possession in Florida?

The penalties for possession of cannabis in Florida vary depending on several factors, primarily the quantity of marijuana in possession. The state classifies marijuana possession as a first-degree misdemeanor, and the severity of the punishment is influenced by the amount involved.

Possession of 20 Grams of Weed or Less

  • Considered a first-degree misdemeanor.
  • Penalties include fines of up to $1,000.
  • Possibility of up to one year of probation.
  • The individual may face incarceration for a period of up to one year.

Possession of More than 20 Grams

  • Considered a more serious offense.
  • The penalties escalate with larger quantities.
  • Fines can increase significantly, and the potential for longer probation or incarceration becomes more likely.

Subsequent Offenses

  • Repeated offenses may lead to enhanced penalties.
  • Subsequent convictions for possession of cannabis may result in increased fines, longer probation periods, or extended periods of incarceration.

Drug Diversion Programs

Individuals confronting initial possession charges may qualify for diversion initiatives, allowing them to sidestep a criminal record. This involves fulfilling specific requisites like engaging in community service or participating in drug education programs.

What Are Defenses to Possession of Marijuana?

Defenses to charges of marijuana possession in Florida can differ depending on individual case circumstances. Consulting a qualified attorney is essential for determining the most appropriate defense strategy. Several common defenses include:

Unlawful Search and Seizure

Disputing the legality of the search that uncovered marijuana is a defense strategy. If law enforcement is found to have violated the individual's Fourth Amendment rights, any evidence obtained may be considered inadmissible in court.

Lack of Knowledge

Demonstrating that the individual was unaware of the presence of marijuana. If the prosecution cannot establish knowledge, a vital element of the offense is not satisfied.

Constructive Possession Dispute

Arguing against the concept of constructive possession, which implies control over an area where marijuana is found. Challenging the prosecution's ability to link the individual to the marijuana can be a defense strategy.

Medical Necessity

In some instances, individuals with a valid medical need for marijuana may present a defense. While medical marijuana is legal in Florida for qualified patients, strict regulations apply.

Crime Lab Analysis

Challenging the reliability of the crime lab analysis that determined the substance was marijuana. Issues with the testing process or chain of custody may undermine the prosecution's case.

Illegal Search of a Vehicle

If marijuana is discovered during a vehicle search, challenging the legality of the search can be a defense. Law enforcement must have a valid reason to search without a warrant.


Arguing that law enforcement induced the individual to possess marijuana, and they would not have done so otherwise.

Insufficient Quantity

In cases where the amount of marijuana is near the legal threshold for misdemeanor charges, challenging the accuracy of the weight measurement can be a defense strategy.

How Erase The Case Can Help

Erase the Case extends invaluable assistance to individuals facing convictions by providing specialized services, including expunging criminal records. 

Following a conviction, Erase the Case guides individuals through expunging their criminal records to erase or seal the conviction from public access. This service is particularly beneficial for those seeking a fresh start and opportunities unhindered by the stigma of a criminal record.


Is it legal to possess marijuana in Florida?

Generally, marijuana possession is illegal in Florida, with some exceptions for medical use under specific conditions.

Is marijuana a controlled substance in Florida?

Indeed, marijuana is classified as a controlled substance in Florida, and its possession is subject to stringent regulations outlined in state law.

How many marijuana plants constitute a felony in Florida?

The cultivation of marijuana plants is considered a felony, and the severity of the charge is contingent on the number of plants involved.

How much marijuana constitutes a misdemeanor in Florida?

Possession of 20 grams or less is typically categorized as a misdemeanor in Florida, representing a lower threshold for legal consequences.

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David Weisselberger
Author | Founder
"David Weisselberger is the founder of Erase The Case. He completed his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Florida, & also his Juris Doctor from UM School of Law. Afterwards, He has been working as a former Miami-Dade County Assistant Public Defender. Also, as a solo lawyer and former associate at South Florida’s honored Saban & Solomon Law Firm. He has learned firsthand the effects people face from having a public criminal arrest record mark their lives. Therefore, David has always been working hard to help people get rid of haunting crimnal past and have a second chance in life"

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