Florida growers are under a lot of pressure. After recently placing second in overall marijuana abolishment, a new report by the United States Department of Justice claims that Florida has the highest amount of indoor cannabis grow sites taken by force. This news isn’t too surprising, when you consider the report from Palm Beach we detailed last week, along with a plethora of recent busts in the Sunshine State.
Prominent Melbourne marijuana defense lawyer Mark S. Germain, one of the founding partners at the Law Offices of Germain and Coulter, LLC, whose firm represents hundreds of clients charged with marijuana offenses explained in a press release why raids are occurring at such a high volume.
“The increased discovery and eradication of indoor marijuana farms by government authorities directly relates to the increase of indoor growing operations. Government success in seizing and punishing owners of outdoor grow sites caused an increase in indoor marijuana cultivation; however, the Florida legislature took notice and increased their efforts to eradicate indoor grow houses as well.”
That increased effort came in the form of the Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act, which turned most grow-ops from a smaller offense into drug trafficking, a first-degree felony. Under the act, the number of plants a grower needs to be considered for that felony is only 25 which is down from 300 before the act was enacted. Keep in mind that the minimum sentence we’re talking about here is three years and a $25,000 fine – that’s incentive to not grow.
However, the increase in seizures and the aforementioned increase in indoor grows ironically proves that this act isn’t accomplishing much. The punishment is absurdly harsh and yet year after year seizures continue to increase. What’s not clear here is if these were federal or state seizures, and whether or not a federally seized grower is eligible for state penalties or simply the existing federal ones, which entail a whopping $250,000 fine along with possible prison time. Harsh punishments, as proven by these increases – upwards of 70% in five years, according to the Justice Department – aren’t going to solve the “problem.” Better legislation and fairer treatment of growers will.