More than California, which has twice the population and girth, Florida in 2010 had more indoor marijuana cultivation operations than any other state. Roughly 820 operations were sniffed out that year. Many of the busts go down in South Florida, the DEA says, inside what it refers to as the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
The courts have determined that one does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in contraband. However, warrantless intrusion via listening devices, thermal imaging, and now drug dog sniffs, has been found to require a warrant in order to be conducted. The problem with cases like these involving drug dog sniffs is the reliability of the sniff. Drug dogs, even though specially trained for a purpose, are still dogs. Dogs get excited and will alert to things like tennis balls in trunks and animals in the vicinity. Even highly trained drug dogs still only smell “contraband”. This does not necessarily mean that drugs are present. Faint odors may remain when no contraband exists. Legal Incense is sold that smells like marijuana. A drug dog will alert falsely and police will invade because of legal activity like burning incense that causes a legal smell.
Many times, charges for marijuana grow houses surface after a utility theft case is brought, as many of these cases are tied to grow houses, where offenders use high amounts of energy, and in some cases, tamper with the meter or bypass it entirely to avoid raising suspicion. Often, these types of hydroponic operations include specially designed timing systems for lighting and irrigation, as well as electric meter diversions.
Because of electrical diversionary methods used by growers, electricians and power companies are another important resource for the police. FPL can monitor spikes in energy use and report unusually high electric bills to law enforcement agencies. In addition, the very electricians who are paid by growers to bypass electric meters are often informants. Many suspects arrested in grow-house cases will face felony charges for drug manufacturing, but only a misdemeanor charge for the theft of electricity.
The reason that Florida has high numbers of grow houses is that many Floridians run their air conditioning 365 days a year, and as such have high energy bills. Particularly in the summer, the police are not able to discern suspiciously high electrical bills, which normally highlight where a potential grow house might be. This invisibility attracts many growers and subsequent distributors.
Jacksonville, and other areas throughout North and Central Florida have now been referred to as the “hotbed” for marijuana growth. Marijuana in these areas can be easily grown to a particularly quality outdoors, not requiring the expensive equipment costs of a hydroponic operation. As such, more drugs can be turned out for a cheaper cost.
Many times, when one is charged with growing marijuana, the State will attempt to punish one by charging one with every single applicable charge possible. One of the most common charges is drug paraphernalia. All of the equipment used to grow the marijuana, smoke the marijuana, and store it, including jars.
Even if one is not growing marijuana in Jacksonville, if one has marijuana, most likely, one has a way to burn it. Many people roll marijuana into joints, blunts, and other forms via cigarette-style paper or re-purposed cigars. For others, getting high comes from a pipe or bong. Now, the Florida legislature is attempting to pass a bill to ban retail sale of bongs which has already passed in the Florida House, and possibly soon, the Senate. If this happens, the days of bongs in Florida are over. The legislation itself is wildly vague , without explaining whether or not one can still legally buy bongs on the Internet.
If one obtains an experienced Jacksonville drug crimes defense attorney to fight the case and ensure the illegally obtained evidence against one will be suppressed, limiting what the prosecution and police have access to, and possibly having one’s charges dropped.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source: Five Reasons Florida Is America’s Most Infamous Marijuana StateTerrence McCoy, Broward-Palm Beach NewTImes