For the first time in fifty years, the federal government is considering changing the way it labels marijuana. What is changing, and how would it impact people in Florida?

The Federal Proposal to Change Marijuana Classification

The potential change to the federal classification of marijuana started in October 2022 when President Joe Biden called for the Department of Health and Human Services to review federal marijuana laws.

While states across the country have legalized both medical and recreational use of marjuana, the federal government has not changed its stance on the drug in more than 50 years, per reporting by AP News. Since the Controlled Substances Act was enacted, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I drug. As a Schedule I drug, marijuana is handled the same as heroin, meth, and LSD. The Schedule I designation indicates that it is a drug that has no medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Biden and other federal authorities believe marijuana should be reclassified as a less dangerous drug.

The Department of Health and Human Services has now recommended that marijuana be classified as a Schedule III drug. Schedule III drugs are considered drugs that have some medical benefits and are less likely to be abused. Schedule III drugs include ketamine, some anabolic steroids, and Tylenol with codeine.

So, will the reclassification happen?

Will The Recassificaion Happen?

The reclassification requires a lengthy regulatory process. The change won’t happen quickly, and it may not be resolved by the 2024 election.

So far, the opinion of the Department of Health and Human Services has been accepted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Now, it must be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

If approved, there would be a period of public comment and a review by an administrative judge. At that time, the change would then be signed by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The process could be halted at any point if Congress decides to overturn the rule under the Congressional Review Act, according to NBC News.

The reclassification has a long way to go, but it could happen — and what if it does?

What Would Reclassification Change?

Reclassification of marijuana won’t necessarily create major changes in the federal criminal system.

Schedule III drugs are still seen as a controlled substance, and they are subject to federal rules and regulations. Under the reclassification, those who violate the rules could still be charged with federal crimes. It would still be against the law to traffic marijuana without permission, and the penalties for possession may not change. But at this time, few marijuana possession charges are brought at the federal level anyway. Most prosecutions happen at the state level and are based on state laws.

What could change is the way marijuana is treated by the medical community. Moving the drug to Schedule III could open the doors for more research into its medical benefits. This change could also pave the way for pharmaceutical companies to get involved with the sale and distribution of marijuana.

Another change could be in the public opinion of the drug. By reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous drug, it may influence public votes as many states are voting on referendums to legalize marijuana in upcoming elections.

Finally, the reclassification could have some impact on those who distribute and sell marijuana in states where it is legal medically or recreationally. Those distributors may receive tax breaks that are currently not available to them.

So, does it change anything in Florida?

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

Is Marijuana Legal In Florida?

Across the country, states have their own marijuana-related laws. Thirty-eight states have legalized medical marijuana, and 24 have legalized its recreational use.

In Florida, marijuana is legal for medical use, but it is still illegal for recreational use. 

You can face a misdemeanor charge for possession or sale of 20 grams or less of marijuana in Florida. It can result in a year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Possession and the sale of marijuana can also lead to felony charges in Florida. Depending on the charges, it can result in up to 30 years in prison and a maximum of $200,000 in fines.

Related: Misdemeanor vs Felony: What’s the Difference? 

Talk to a Drug Possession Attorney Today

In Florida, you can still be charged with marijuana drug possession. If you were fined or arrested, talk to a drug possession attorney right away.

An experienced attorney can help you fight the charges and potentially reduce the consequences in some cases. The sooner you start on your defense, the better your results will be. So don’t delay. Call criminal defense attorney TJ Grimaldi today. All consultations are free. Request your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 now.

TJ Grimaldi

TJ Grimaldi

TJ Grimaldi joined McIntyre in 2011. McIntyre recruited TJ to create the divisions of personal injury and family law, as well as to expand the existing criminal defense practice at the firm. During TJ’s tenure at McIntyre, he has helped oversee and grow these practice areas. He continues to practice in these divisions while also expanding his own practice areas to include estate planning and immigration law. TJ is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Florida and the United States District Court for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida.