When a person is found guilty of marijuana possession, whether the crime is considered a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the quantity found. If someone is discovered to have under 20 grams of marijuana, the crime is a misdemeanor. This means that he or she will have one year in jail and a fine of about $1000. If more than 20 grams are found, however, the crime is a felony, and the person will probably receive 5 years in prison. This 20-gram cutoff was set because it is a large enough amount that if a person has it, lawmakers assume that he or she is probably a dealer rather than a regular user. This is not always the case; sometimes marijuana users buy in bulk. Nevertheless, possessing over twenty grams of marijuana is always a felony.
If a person is found in possession of other drugs without a prescription or the proper authority, regardless of the amount, Florida law states that this is an automatic felony.
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“There’s a breakpoint, for example, from misdemeanor to felony, and it has to do with quantity, but that quantity only applies to marijuana. If you’ve got under 20 grams of marijuana, that’s a misdemeanor. 19.9 grams, maximum penalty, a year in jail. Maybe a thousand dollar fine. Okay? 20.1 grams, you can get five years in prison. There’s got to be a breakpoint. It may not seem fair for that little bit of difference, but you got to switch over someplace, and the legislature has decided, “If you’ve got over 20 grams, we’re going to call that a felony,” and it’s premised on the assumption that if you’ve got more than 20 grams, you’ve probably got more than you’re using yourself. That doesn’t always hold true. People shop at Costco, and they buy cans of goods more than they intend to use at one meal because they get it less per ounce, if you will, whenever they buy it in larger quantities. So, you may very well wind up being purely a user but still having over 20 grams. If you do that, however, and you’re caught, it’s a felony. With other drugs, cocaine, there’s a whole list of drugs in Chapter 893 of the Florida statutes. Hundred of drugs, and if you’re found in possession of those, without a prescription, without authority to be in possession of those, that’s a felony right off the bat.”