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What Does Decriminalization Mean?

marijuana leaf, handcuffs, gavel

What Does Decriminalized Mean?

In the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of news about decriminalizing marijuana. What exactly does this mean, and how does it impact drug charges and penalties?

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Decriminalization vs. Legalization of Drugs

A common misconception is that decriminalizing marijuana makes it legal. However, this is not the case.

If a drug is legalized, that means there are no longer any penalties for personally having or using the drug. For example, it is legal for adults over 21 to have alcohol in their possession.

If a drug is decriminalized, however, it only removes criminal penalties. This means that possessing a small amount of marijuana would no longer be a criminal offense, but may still be punishable with fines or other civil penalties.

An example of this would be if a person is found with less than one ounce of marijuana in their pocket. In states where marijuana is not decriminalized, this could warrant a drug possession charge. In states where marijuana is decriminalized, the individual will not face criminal penalties.

The Push For Decriminalization

The recent push for decriminalizing marijuana has been in an effort to keep people out of the criminal justice system.
Other goals for decriminalization include:

  • Saving money otherwise spent to fund prisons
  • Saving resources for law enforcement to focus on more serious offenses
  • Providing drug treatment rather than criminal punishment

Florida Laws

Florida has not decriminalized any drugs, including marijuana.

However, it is important to note that Florida did legalize medical marijuana for people with qualifying conditions.

Possession of up to 20 grams of recreational marijuana will result in criminal penalties.

This could include:

  • A first-degree misdemeanor charge
  • Up to one year in jail
  • Expensive fines
  • Community service

Possession may become a felony charge if the individual is found with over 20 grams of marijuana.

Jacksonville Drug Attorneys

Drug charges are complex; at First Coast Criminal Defense, we can tailor our defense strategies to fit the needs of your case. Our dedicated attorneys offer free initial case evaluations. Contact us today to get started.