Vape pens have changed the way people consume marijuana. They work by heating up and vaporizing a liquid that the user inhales. For marijuana to be used in this type of device, one of its chemicals, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), must be extracted and made into an oil or wax. The substance is then injected into a cartridge that fits onto the vape.
Often resembling pens, USB devices, and other common items, vapes are more inconspicuous than traditional marijuana-consumption objects like bongs. Thus, people can take them anywhere without raising suspicion. And while many know that marijuana possession is a crime in Florida, they might not be aware that possessing THC is considered a more serious offense. Therefore, people are surprised to find themselves facing a felony charge for THC vaping, or even just for having a cartridge that has THC in it.
Isn't Possession of Marijuana a Misdemeanor?
In Florida, possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis is a first-degree misdemeanor. However, looking closely at Florida Statute 893.13(6)(b), you'll notice an exception stating that "'cannabis' does not include the resin extracted from the plants of the genus Cannabis or any compound manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such resin."
When THC is extracted from the cannabis plant, it is considered a resin, which is exempted from the definition of cannabis under the section of the law concerning marijuana possession.
The Charge for THC Vaping
Under Florida's schedule of controlled substances, THC and cannabis are Schedule I drugs. This schedule is considered the most serious of the 5, as the substances contained within have been deemed to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse. Thus, the penalties for possessing such substances are substantial.
If someone is caught with a vape pen containing a THC cartridge, they'll be facing a third-degree felony drug possession charge. Upon conviction, the punishments may include but are not limited to imprisonment for up to 5 years and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Contrast that with the penalties for possessing 20 grams or less of cannabis: up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
It's important to note that the felony charge for possessing THC is levied regardless of the amount of the substance the person had. Therefore, even if the cartridge had only a few ounces of the substance, the person could face severe consequences and be impacted for the rest of their life.
At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., our lawyers recognize the seriousness of a drug possession charge – whether a misdemeanor or a felony – and work tirelessly toward obtaining favorable outcomes for those accused. For the legal representation you need in Daytona Beach, call us at (386) 693-1637 or contact us online today.