Palm Beach County Marijuana Laws
Palm Beach County Marijuana Laws – Out of Florida’s sixty-seven counties, Palm Beach County is the third most populated county with seven percent of the state’s population. Statewide, counties perform important public service functions. Some of these functions include emergency medical services, public safety, health care, fire, jails, public record-keeping, libraries, comprehensive planning, economic development, and roads. Throughout the state, citizens and visitors are required to abide by federal and state laws, rules, and regulations. If federal or state law is silent on an issue, especially in an area deemed important to the life, safety, health, and well-being of its citizens, a county may approve an ordinance and promulgate rules and regulations addressing the issue at hand. With respect to marijuana laws, those in Palm Beach County must abide by Florida Statutes, Chapter 893. This article will provide an overview of Chapter 893 as well as the ordinance passed by the Board of County Commissioners of Palm Beach County responding to the problems associated with “synthetic marijuana,” an issue not addressed by federal or state laws. Finally, the reader will have an opportunity to review how the proposed ballot will change current law if passed by sixty percent of Florida’s voters.
Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act
Florida Statutes, Chapter 893 is referred to as the “Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act.” This statute is probably one of this country’s stricter anti-marijuana laws with severe consequences. Within this act, marijuana, otherwise known as cannabis, is classified as a Schedule I substance, meaning it “has a high potential for abuse and has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and in its use under medical supervision does not meet accepted safety standards.” The possession, sale, distribution or cultivation of any amount of marijuana is a criminal offense. The penalties range from a misdemeanor resulting in one year jail time and up to a $1000 fine for possession of 20 grams or less, to felony charges with up to 15 years in jail and $200,000 in fines for distribution or cultivation of 10,000 pounds (or 10,000 plants).
Synthetic Marijuana Ordinance In Palm Beach County
As comprehensive and limiting as Florida Statute, Chapter 893 is, it did not address drugs that are known as synthetic marijuana, bath salts, or herbal incense. These chemical substances imitate actual drugs that are sold at convenience stores and gas stations. In the Executive Brief submitted by the Palm Beach County Attorney’s Office, it states:
The chemically enhanced products referenced in this ordinance, which may be purchased legally in the absence of this ordinance, are being used as recreational drugs and marketed as legal and safer alternatives to illegal methods of “getting high,” when in actuality, they contain substances that are often more potent and dangerous than the illegal drugs they are designed to mimic. Although there are state and federal laws that provide for criminal prosecution stemming from the possession and sale of many of these chemically engineered substances, rogue chemists are able to subtly reconfigure the particular synthetic compounds quicker than the legislature can act.
Accordingly, Palm Beach County together with a number of other counties, passed an ordinance banning these synthetic drugs.
What Can Change In November’s Election?
In the November election, Florida voters will have the opportunity to answer the “Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions” question. In the event this constitutional amendment passes, the following represents some of the changes that will occur with respect to medical marijuana:
Who qualifies? Anyone who suffers from glaucoma, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other medical conditions found debilitating by their physicians. Only those patients whose physicians determine that the potential harms are outweighed by marijuana’s potential benefits would qualify.
To qualify: A patient would need a Florida physician’s certification stating that the benefits outweigh the potential risks.
Under Florida law: Patients who are registered patients would not incur civil or criminal liability as long as it is for medical use. However, this amendment does not protect patients from criminal liability for driving under the influence of marijuana.
What can be possessed?With respect to the amount allowed to be possessed for the patient’s individual needs, the Florida Department of Health is charged with determining “the amount of marijuana that could reasonably be presumed to be an adequate supply.” Exception is made as long as evidence is provided that overcomes the department’s presumptive limit where a higher limit is required by a specific condition.
What about growing marijuana? The cultivation of medical marijuana will only be permitted by state-regulated medical marijuana treatment centers.
Can I be fired for using medical marijuana? Workplaces are not required to accommodate medical marijuana.
Will insurance companies pay for medical marijuana? Insurance providers are not required to provide reimbursement for medical marijuana.
What if I am a patient from another state? Patients from other states will not be recognized in Florida. Only those holding a medical marijuana card from Florida will have protection. And, medical marijuana certifications may only be provided by those physicians licensed in the state of Florida.
In conclusion, Palm Beach County and every other county in the state of Florida, is subject to all federal and state laws. Additionally, citizens and visitors to Palm Beach County must comply with any ordinance, rule or regulation promulgated by the Board of County Commissioners of Palm Beach County. With respect to synthetic marijuana, it is illegal in Palm Beach County as well as other counties promulgating similar ordinances. In the event federal or state law address the concerns and issues set forth in its ordinance, then, this ordinance would become moot.
If you have any questions about marijuana laws in Palm Beach County, please ask in the comments below or in the forums.
About The Author: Karen Van Den Heuvel Fischer is an attorney, Registered Dietitian, Certified Civil Mediator, and published author. She is licensed to practice law in both Florida and Colorado where her unique experiences encompass more than 20 years in the corporate, government and private sectors. Her academic achievements include earning a doctorate in jurisprudence, Summa Cum Laude, graduating first in her class, as well as a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Nutrition, both degrees being conferred with honors.