New Hemp Laws May Make It Harder To Investigate Marijuana Cases In Florida

Marijuana Leaf Close Up with Texture Background of Cannabis Leaves

Prosecutors say new state laws regarding the use of hemp may make it harder for law enforcement to pursue investigations into the illegal use and possession of marijuana.

Bruce Colton is the State Attorney for the Treasure Coast counties of Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee. He wrote a letter to law enforcement agencies, warning that because marijuana is similar to hemp, which was removed from the controlled substance list in the state, the sight or smell of marijuana can no longer be used as probable cause to search someone's property.

"The July 1 amendment to the definition of cannabis in Florida Statute 893.02 will require law enforcement agencies to develop new strategies for the arrest and prosecution of offenses involving cannabis…. Since there is no way to distinguish hemp from cannabis, the mere presence of suspected cannabis or its odor will no longer suffice to establish probable cause to believe the substance is cannabis. Law enforcement officers should, therefore, look for other evidence of illegality before taking any action that requires probable cause.”

Colton suggests that police should instead look for other evidence of illegality before taking any action that requires probable cause.

In Martin County, Sheriff William Snyder insists his deputies will be able to conduct field tests on any drivers who appear to be under the influence of marijuana or any other substance.

Photo: Getty Images

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