Media glamorization, peer influence and constantly evolving social beliefs about legalization vs. control of various substances all contribute to the temptation young adults face when headed to college. According to a 2016 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, on an average day in the U.S. 703,759 full-time college students used marijuana, 11,338 took cocaine and 4,570 used heroin.

Unfortunately, many individuals underestimate just how costly even a relatively minor drug charge may be. In addition to stiff fines and the potential for imprisonment, students facing a possession charge risk losing financial aid, expulsion and may have to live with a misdemeanor or felony on their record that could jeopardize education, employment, housing and other opportunities for years to come.

Florida penalties for drug possession

The severity of a sentence for drug possession depends on the type and amount of the controlled substance involved and whether an individual has prior convictions. Some examples of drug charge penalties include:

  • First-degree misdemeanor: Excepting legally obtained medical cannabis, possession of up to 20 grams carries penalties of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Those with multiple prior offenses may be subject to enhanced penalties.
  • Third-degree felony: Possession of 20 or more grams of non-medical cannabis, up to 28 grams of cocaine, up to one gram of LSD and up to four grams of heroin/opioids may result in up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • First-degree felony: Possession of more than 25 pounds of non-medical cannabis, more than 28 grams of cocaine, more than one gram of LSD and more than four grams of heroin/opioids may result in up to 30 years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000.

It is important for individuals facing a drug charge to realize that the effects of a conviction may have additional consequences that could last a lifetime. As well as facing issues with job and housing searches, a misdemeanor or felony offense may prevent those convicted from pursuing a business or professional license, receiving public benefits or even exercising their right to vote.