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Legalized Hemp in Florida

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Legalized Hemp in Florida

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On July 1, 2019, the Florida legislature legalized the possession and use of hemp and related products. Hemp is derived from cannabis just like marijuana, however, products classified as hemp have 0.03 percent or less of THC, which is the psychoactive component of marijuana. Instead, hemp products are sold for the benefits of CBD, which can address anxiety, pain, and other health issues without the “high” of marijuana.

Cannabis with more than 0.03 percent of THC is still against the law in Florida (if you do not have a medical card). However, the legalization of hemp has caused problems with the prosecution of low-level marijuana possession. This is because legal hemp and unlawful marijuana are indistinguishable without advanced lab testing. Hemp and marijuana can look and smell exactly the same, and you cannot tell how much THC is present in a substance by sight or smell.

The Florida law went into effect before crime labs had a chance to develop a way to accurately test for low THC levels. Current testing methods might have positive results for THC when the level is below 0.03 percent. For this reason, it is possible for someone to be arrested and charged with marijuana possession when, in reality, they possessed legal hemp and did not violate the law.

Florida State Attorney Jack Campbell addressed the matter to law enforcement agencies. The letter stated:

  • Officers should not base warrantless searches on the smell of marijuana alone
  • Officers should not arrest people based on their assumption a substance is marijuana and not hemp
  • The State Attorney’s office will not approve warrants based on assumptions that a substance is illegal marijuana
  • The State Attorney’s office will not issue marijuana possession charges absent a confession that the substance is marijuana or without dispositive testing (which is not currently available)

Even with the new policies, many officers may still arrest people for marijuana possession, whether or not the substance was hemp or marijuana. Anyone arrested should call a criminal defense lawyer in Melbourne immediately.

Contact a Drug Possession Defense Lawyer in Melbourne, Florida

Harnage Law defends clients against many types of criminal charges, including drug-related cases. Call 321.549.7886 or contact us online to speak with a Melbourne criminal defense attorney.