If you live in or are visiting the city, you might be wondering, is weed legal in Miami? For many, marijuana has become a regular part of their relaxation routine, and enjoying a hit or several has become as normal as enjoying a beer in the backyard on a Sunday afternoon. If that is you, however, you might want to think twice.
It is illegal to smoke weed in Miami on three different levels (local, state, and federal) unless you have an official “Certification for the Medical Use of Marijuana” card per § 381.986(1), F.S.. If you have the Medical Marijuana Card, it is illegal to smoke weed in public or any public place.
Does that mean if you get caught smoking weed in Miami, you will be arrested and prosecuted? The answer to that question is different than whether weed is legal and much depends on your circumstances if you get caught using pot within city limits. The following is all you need to know regarding using weed in Miami and what to be careful to avoid.
When is Weed Legal in Miami?
As the header implies, weed is not legal within Miami city limits. In fact, for most of us, having weed in our possession, using and/or selling marijuana in Miami is never legal. The one exception is if you have a medical reason to administer weed to address certain side effects or symptoms of disease or injury or if you use weed to treat disease or injury.
Medicinal Use of Weed
To legally consume marijuana in any capacity in Florida, you must be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition by a licensed physician in Florida. In addition, you must:
- Be a permanent or seasonal Florida resident
- Be registered in the Medical Marijuana Use Registry
- Obtain a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card
There are a few rules:
- You cannot smoke weed where it is illegal to smoke it (which is pretty much everywhere in public)
- You cannot take the weed you get in Florida out of state
- You cannot give your weed to another person
- You must only have the legally prescribed dosage of marijuana (roughly 2.5 ounces every 35 days)
More information on medical marijuana in Florida is available at the Florida Department of Health, Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
Smoking in Florida, even legal smoking, per state law, is heavily regulated in any setting that cannot be defined as “strictly private.” Strictly private is a private residence that does not have certain types of businesses run out or managed in the home. It is even illegal to smoke in a private residence if that residence houses a business that provides care for children.
At the city level, Miami Beach has banned smoking on its beaches. That includes smoking pot.
How Much Weed is Legal In Miami?
The easiest way to understand the status of weed in Miami is to look at it from the perspective of those levels: Federal, state, and local. Federal law overrules state law, and state law overrules local law. Where no laws exist at the federal level, state laws apply, and if there are no state laws, local ordinances would be in effect.
When there is a disagreement between any combination of federal, state, or local laws, federal law is technically “the law.” Enforcing that law, however, is often a matter of law enforcement and prosecutorial discretion. The Miami-Dade County prosecutor has announced as a policy that it will not prosecute possession of a small amount of weed.
“Small amount” is not clearly defined in every situation, so the best approach if you plan on smoking weed or eating edibles is to carry only enough for your personal use at that time. Do not carry more than single-use and do not share what you bring. In either of those situations, prosecution, including being charged with distributing, is open to interpretation.
Here is how the federal, state, and local governments approach the topic of weed’s legality.
Possession, use, and distribution of marijuana are against federal law. Possession is punishable by up to one year of jail and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction. The distribution and sale of marijuana have their penalty schedules and definitions. Possession of drug paraphernalia has its penalty schedule.
That said, while it technically could happen anywhere, enforcement of federal law is more likely to be enforced if you are caught as part of an ongoing federal investigation or in possession while on federal property.
There is no “medical marijuana” exception. A doctor can “recommend” under the First Amendment free speech clause, but acting on that recommendation still violates federal law.
The state of Florida does not recognize the recreational use of weed as a legal activity. Florida statute § 893.13 criminalizes possession or sale of weed. A simple possession charge is a misdemeanor offense. Penalties are based on a misdemeanor foundation and increase based on a penalty schedule from that point.
An exception to this is the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014. The Act legalizes low-THC cannabis for medical use. Individuals that qualify can purchase marijuana at a sanctioned dispensary, of which there are over 30 dispersed throughout the city. Certain laws still apply even with a medical marijuana certification card:
- You may not possess or use weed on state property
- If you get caught with weed not purchased at a dispensary, you can face prosecution under the overriding state law on marijuana possession and distribution
- You can be charged under distribution penalties if you get caught giving someone weed secured through the medical marijuana program
Local (City of Miami)
Recreational use of weed on any City property is illegal. Additionally, the city has a smoking prohibition on all city property, including smoking weed. If you get caught with weed on Miami property, it is unlikely but not impossible that you will face prosecution. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office policy is that the office will not prosecute possession of small amounts of weed.
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What Happens if I Get Caught With Weed in Miami?
That depends on the circumstances. In some cases, nothing. In other cases, you could face fines or even prosecution.
Possession on Miami Beach
The City of Miami prohibits smoking at Miami Beach or any other public space or park in the City of Miami. That includes smoking:
- Cannabis-infused tobacco
Penalty for Getting Caught Smoking on City Property
The penalty for getting caught in possession of pot in any iteration of pot can be up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. You should also be aware violations of city ordinances can result in additional charges on top of state and federal, or, if state and federal agencies decline to prosecute, can result in standalone charges.
Additionally, smoking weed on city property is against the law. You may possess edibles, but only under the medical marijuana laws, and you may not share what you have with anyone. Getting caught smoking weed on public property can result in arrest, prosecution, fines, or imprisonment, even if you have medical marijuana certification.
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Is Weed Legal in Miami in Any Circumstances?
The best way to look at weed possession, distribution, or use within Miami city limits is that it is illegal to possess or use weed on any public property, even for medical purposes. If you are caught in possession or using, discretion to prosecute is solely up to the law.
When Will Weed be Legal in Miami?
No one knows for sure outside the instances where it is already legal. At the federal level, efforts to legalize weed for recreational use are always being proposed, but none have been successful to date. At the state level, likely recreational use will not come from the state government until it is legal federally.
In addition to that, there will still be local laws that govern how legal weed can be used. You will never, for instance, be able to smoke weed in the open due to overriding smoking in public laws.
The following are questions that pertain to possession of weed in Miami.
Is it legal to use weed if I have a medical marijuana card?
In most cases, no. You can use weed if you have a medical marijuana exemption and use the weed on a property where it is legal. Public property is never legal property to use weed. If you have an exemption and get caught using weed, it is up to the prosecutor to determine whether or not to press charges.
Can I be prosecuted for small amounts of weed?
It completely depends on your background, who catches you, and the mindset of the local, state, or federal prosecutor involved. Most will not prosecute for possessing small amounts of weed, but different factors influence that decision. It is wise to assume you will be charged and prosecuted, no matter who catches you or how much you possess.
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