Miami-Dade To Temporarily Stop Prosecuting Misdemeanor Marijuana Cases

Miami-Dade To Temporarily Stop Prosecuting Misdemeanor Marijuana Cases

The Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle's Office has announced that they will temporally stop prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana possession cases for the time-being.* Rundle made the announcement in a memo to law enforcement pictured below.

According to the memo, due to a new law that legalizes the possession and use of hemp in Florida, laboratory testing must be done to decipher between cannabis and hemp. The two appear to be similar, but hemp has trace amounts of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis that is responsible for the "high" that many recreational users seek. “Because hemp and cannabis both come from the same plant, they look, smell and feel the same,” Rundle wrote. “There is no way to visually or microscopically distinguish hemp from marijuana.”.

This does imply that police officers may not use the distinctive odor of cannabis alone as probable cause for search or arrest. Police offers are able to make an arrest for "odor plus" which implies a secondary factor such as impared driving or even "avoiding eye contact".

“Since every marijuana case will now require an expert, and necessitate a significant expenditure by the State of Florida, barring exceptional circumstances on a particular case, we will not be prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana possession cases,” Rundle further added. 

Rundle said that the Miami-Dade crime lab is currently does not have the capability to test for THC. However, that is anticipated to change in the next three to six months. “Once the MDPD lab can again conduct such testing themselves, then this all becomes moot,” Rundle said in a statement to the  Miami Herald

While this may give some users a bit of relief, it does not legalize the recreational use of cannabis and it clear that the  Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office does intend to resume prosecutions at some point towards the end of 2019 and 2020. 

*This post is for educational purposes only and should not be used for legal advice. Furthermore does not condone the use of illegal substances.