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Sorting through the mixed bag of Florida marijuana laws

When Florida government officials made medical marijuana legal in this state, you may have been one of perhaps thousands (or more) happy to hear about it. If you or someone you love suffers from a seizure disorder, cancer or other ailment from which studies show cannabis alleviates symptoms, you may be relieved to know it might be possible to get help for your condition. If you plan to seek this type of pain relief, there are various regulations with which you'll want to be familiar.

If you're into studying legal terminology, then you may already be aware that there's a distinct difference between the legalization of marijuana and the decriminalization of it. Understanding this difference is crucial to anyone who hopes to avoid problems with the law, also keeping in mind that regulations vary by state; so, knowing what's what in another state isn't going to help you much if you're in Florida.

What does it mean if something is legal?

As you probably know, if you are age 21 or older it is legal for you to consume alcohol in this state and all others in the nation. This of course means officials won't arrest you, charge you with a crime or convict you for drinking an alcoholic beverage if you adhere to the laws and regulations that coincide with the activity. In some states, you can smoke marijuana legally (although it remains illegal on a federal level) while in others, such as Florida, you can only use it in certain circumstances under stringent restrictions.

How is decriminalization different from legalization?

In some states, legislatures have decriminalized marijuana use, meaning certain types of activity are still potential criminal offenses while other aspects of the same type of activity receive reductions to minor infractions and are not subject to criminal charges. For instance, if a police officer on the West Coast stopped you and you had a small amount of marijuana in your possession; officials may fine you, but not prosecute you.

What about Florida law in particular?

If you're someone who enjoys smoking marijuana for pleasure (as is perfectly legal in states like Colorado) it's best to remember that such activity is not legal in this state. Here, the law strictly confines marijuana use to medicinal use only. If you have a card that identifies you as someone who uses the drug for medicinal purposes, you must obtain the marijuana you use from a state approved dispensary.

Who can help if problems arise?

It would be quite unfortunate if you misunderstood state law, or assumed that since it is legal in some states, it must be legal everywhere, and wound up facing criminal charges due to lack of clarity. However, if something similar is going on in your life at the time, or you've hit some other roadblock regarding needed medicinal marijuana, you can seek support by turning to someone well versed in the marijuana laws of the state who can protect your rights and help you mitigate a particular problem situation if needed.

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