Colorado and Washington Legalized a Plant

The above two states are our nation’s first two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.  Possession of the plant is still a crime under federal law.  The legal clinics and dispensaries that are selling weed in these two states could be federally prosecuted if and when the federal government decides to get involved.  For now, it seems that the federal government is taking a hands off approach, allowing the states to regulate the plant on their own. After all, the federal government lets states exercise the enforcement of the death penalty or the abolition of the death penalty as they so choose.  One would think if the individual states can be trusted with the decision to kill or not to kill their convicted denizens, well, they might be able to regulate a plant without federal intervention.

So Far the Tax Man Wins

According to Colorado’s governor, as reported by the Associated Press, John Hickenlooper, the tax revenue from legalized pot sales is projected to be 98 million dollars in the first fiscal year.  This revenue is from a 12.9 percent sales tax rate  and a 15 percent excise tax on recreational weed.  Medical marijuana is subject to only a 2.9 percent sales tax.

Where The Weed Tax Will Go

Colorado’s governor has outlined a spending plan for the marijuana tax revenue.  The money will be spent in the following areas: 1. youth use prevention 2. substance abuse treatment 3. public health 4. media campaigns regarding marijuana use 5. an anti driving while stoned campaign 6. a 105 bed residential treatment facility and 7. school construction.

Florida Still Prosecutes Those With The Plant

Marijuana possession under Florida drug crime laws can be a misdemeanor or a felony.  If one is arrested and the amount of pot is less than 20 grams (an ounce is 28 grams) the charge is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in county jail.  A third degree felony occurs if the pot weighs out to 20 grams or more.  Getting caught with 20 grams plus of marijuana exposes one to five years in state prison.   Almost across the board, an accompanying charge of possession of paraphernalia occurs  because of a pipe, bong, scale, rolling papers, blunt or the recently marketed electronic cigarettes being present with the marijuana.  This is an additional 12 months exposure on a first degree misdemeanor.  A drug conviction in Florida, no matter how minor, will result in a two year suspension of one’s drivers license by the Department of Motor Vehicles.  A person can be caught in their house with a very small misdemeanor amount of pot, may not even own a motor vehicle at the time or be near a vehicle and there goes the license for two years.

Don’t Grow Your Own

Now that certain states are beginning to realize the tax revenue available from marijuana, some folks, akin to the bathtub gin era of the government’s failed prohibition of alcohol,  will try to beat the taxes of the legalized sales by simply growing their own marijuana.  Currently that is illegal and very risky in Florida.  The growing of one marijuana plant in Florida is a felony offense titled “cultivation of marijuana.”  It can be a seedling sprouting in a foam cup in a dorm room or a six foot bud infested family treasure in a gated neighborhood backyard.  Both are felonies.  Both will be prosecuted.  If the police suspect a marijuana grow at your house in North Florida one may get a visit by police with a search warrant or they will conduct a “knock and talk”  standing  in one’s doorway looking for what they can see in “plain view.”  They will also do the sniff test for the omnipresent (at least on most police reports)  smell of burnt marijuana.  If the police see or smell weed, expect them to search your house without a warrant.

A Drug Conviction, Even For Pot, Limits One’s Future

Even though Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barrack Obama have all admitted to enough  recreational drug use to disqualify them the required security clearance to serve  on their own security details, most Americans with a drug charge on their record will go to the back of the hiring line.  Apartment complexes now screen for any felony convictions and will  refuse felons as tenants.  With the two wars winding down, military recruiters can no longer waive minor drug offenses for young enlistees.  If you are facing a drug charge in Duval, Clay or Nassau counties, call and talk to an experienced drug crime attorney at The Forbess Law Firm, 904-634-0900.

Additional Sources:  Governor:  Colorado pot market exceeds tax hopes, Associated Press,  February 19, 2014

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