With the recent legalization of medical marijuana and the ongoing process of decriminalization of recreational marijuana in Florida, many people are curious about what is and is not legal. State laws for marijuana are in reform, so it is important for Floridians to stay privy to new legislation to stay out of hot water.
One thing that many Floridians might not know is that you can get arrested for being high. However, this is only true if you are a danger to others or you are operating a vehicle — and only if law enforcement can prove you were intoxicated.
Is it Legal to Be High in Public in Florida?
Currently, any possession, sale, and cultivation of marijuana is illegal in Florida. But what if you smoke at home and then go out into public while high? This is where it gets a little gray.
Being high in public is unlawful under certain conditions. Florida Statutes 856.011(1) provides that a person can face disorderly intoxication charges if she is “intoxicated and endangers the safety of another person or property,” or if she is “intoxicated or drinks any alcoholic beverage in a public place or in or upon any public conveyance and cause a public disturbance.” Note, the term “intoxicated” is not exclusive to alcohol. Inebriation as a result of any substance — even marijuana or another controlled substance — is intoxication under the law.
In other words, officers can arrest you for being high only if you:
- Endanger someone or another’s property;
- Smoke marijuana or do another drug in public; or
- Cause a public disturbance.
Can I Still Get Arrested for Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana?
Yes. While it is not necessarily illegal to be high in public, possession of marijuana in any amount is still illegal (unless you have a prescription).
However, a number of cities in Florida like Tampa, Miami, and Key West have recently adopted new ordinances that make possession of a small amount of marijuana (less than 20 grams) a civil issue, rather than a criminal issue. For example, in Tampa, if an officer finds you with less than 20 grams of marijuana, he will not arrest you. Instead, he will probably issue you a citation and simply confiscate the contraband.
However, you can still face arrest for driving while high. If an officer pulls you over and has reason to believe you are high, he may search your vehicle and even arrest you on a marijuana DUI.
What Are the Penalties for Being High in Public in Florida?
If officers arrest you for disorderly intoxication in Florida, a second-degree misdemeanor, the judge could:
- Sentence you to up to 60 days in jail; and
- Order you to pay a $500 fine.
Having a permanent mark on you record can affect your career and future, even if it is just a misdemeanor. If officers arrested you for a marijuana- or other drug-related charge, talk to our defense attorneys about your case. (The initial call is free.) If we step in early, we may be able to sway the state to not pursue charges. In cases where the state has already filed charges, we can try to secure a plea bargain or push for probation or other lesser penalties rather than jail time.
What Are the Defenses to Disorderly Intoxication in Florida?
Our criminal defense lawyers have helped hundreds of people facing drug charges over the years. There are numerous defenses to disorderly intoxication we may use. Below are a few examples:
- No proof: Does the state have valid evidence that you broke the law?
- You were not endangering anyone.
- You were not in a public place.
- You did not cause a public disturbance.
- If you caused a disturbance, it is because you were acting in self-defense. (Many disorderly conduct cases involve physical altercations.)
Arrested for Marijuana Intoxication? Goldman Wetzel Can Fight Your Charges.
Your reputation, record, and freedom are at state. If you were arrested for being high in public or for any drug-related charge, our team of attorneys at Goldman Wetzel can fight your charges and preserve your rights. We will work quickly to expose weaknesses in the state’s case and get your charges dropped or the penalties reduced.
Contact our office today at 727-828-3900 for a free consultation.