Smoking marijuana on your Florida beach vacation could cost you

You and your family or significant other came down to Florida to enjoy a relaxing vacation. You wanted to hit the beach, soak up some sun and enjoy the vibrant summer night life on the Florida coast.

Maybe you were already drinking and making poor decisions, or perhaps you thought a little marijuana could help you relax. You probably thought there was no harm in sparking up a joint on the beach, but then law enforcement showed up. Maybe your hotel reported that skunky smell from your room. Maybe you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, you're facing criminal charges.

Criminal drug charges were probably not the souvenir you were hoping for when you left home. Now, you've got to arrange to travel back to Florida to defend yourself in court. You may even consider pleading guilty to avoid the travel. That could prove to be a major mistake. Criminal charges for marijuana can carry harsh penalties, especially if you were using marijuana extracts, like BHO, also called wax or dabs. Having any kind of marijuana paraphernalia in your possession could result in another charge as well. You don't want that on your permanent criminal record.

Florida has steep penalties for marijuana offenses

You can't expect the criminal justice system in Florida to take it easy on you just because you're a tourist. You will face the same penalties as Florida citizens do for marijuana crimes.

In cases of simple possession, if you had 20 grams or less, you'll face a misdemeanor. That could result in a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Any amount over 20 grams but under 25 pounds is a felony that carries five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. A paraphernalia charge is also a misdemeanor that could result in an additional year in jail and another $1,000 in fines.

If you were smoking marijuana extracts, you could get charged with a felony that carries five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. It's easy to see why you want to defend yourself against these charges, because a felony drug conviction, even in another state, could change your life. If you're lucky enough to avoid incarceration, you will still have to deal with a criminal record that could keep you out of the best jobs and rental housing.

Think twice

If you were thinking about going to college or graduate school, a drug conviction will prevent you from securing federal student aid.

If you or someone you love is facing a marijuana-related criminal charge from your Florida vacation, you need to take it seriously. Failing to do so could have life-long consequences.

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