Cocaine is a Schedule II controlled substance in Florida, which means lawmakers in the Sunshine State have determined that the drug has some medical value but is highly addictive. Florida became synonymous with cocaine trafficking in the 1980s when criminals like Pablo Escobar shipped hundreds of pounds of the drug to the state each week for distribution throughout the United States. This is why possessing and distributing cocaine is punished harshly in Florida. Possessing even small amounts of cocaine is a felony offense in Florida, and possessing 28 grams or more of the drug is considered trafficking.
Cocaine possession penalties in Florida
Individuals who possess less than 28 grams of cocaine in Florida commit a third-degree felony that is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment or five years of probation. In many parts of Florida, special drug courts have been established that allow offenders facing minor drug charges to avoid jail time by entering substance abuse programs. Officials hope that prioritizing treatment over punishment will help offenders to overcome addiction and reduce recidivism rates.
Cocaine distribution penalties in Florida
Possessing less than 28 grams of cocaine with the intent to distribute the drug is a second-degree felony under Florida law that is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000. Individuals found in possession of 28 or more grams of cocaine in Florida are charged with drug trafficking and face mandatory minimum prison sentences of up to 15 years. Individuals found in possession of more then 150 kilograms of the drug are sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Escaping the past
Cocaine became an extremely popular recreational drug in the United States during the 1980s, and Miami became known as a major cocaine smuggling center. Florida lawmakers drafted harsh cocaine possession, distribution and trafficking laws to change this perception, which is why possessing even small quantities of the drug is a charged as a felony in the Sunshine State. Attitudes toward drug use and addiction have softened in recent years, and many minor narcotics offenders in Florida are now sentenced in drug courts that favor treatment over punishment.