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2.) In Florida, every drug user
is a potential drug trafficker
While the above laws highlight just how pointless it is to try and legislate away victimless crimes, Florida is hard at work showing how easy it is to ruin the lives of thousands of people with malicious legislation.
Florida's legislature has passed the most egregious mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug possession in the country. A handful of just about any drug can get you at least three years behind bars. For some drugs, a literal handful will get you decades behind bars. Take, for instance, the laws around prescription painkillers. Four grams of any opioid is enough for a mandatory three years behind bars. How much is four grams?
"To put this in perspective, know that there are four hundred and fifty four grams in a pound," advises the Hessinger and Kilfin firm. "Less than a handful of pills can result in a mandatory three year prison sentence. TWENTY EIGHT GRAMS or more will result in a mandatory twenty five year sentence and a half million dollar fine."
The sentence for pretty much any drug is harsh on purpose. Florida law states:
For the purpose of clarifying legislative intent regarding the weighing of a mixture containing a controlled substance described in this section, the weight of the controlled substance is the total weight of the mixture, including the controlled substance and any other substance in the mixture. If there is more than one mixture containing the same controlled substance, the weight of the controlled substance is calculated by aggregating the total weight of each mixture.
So, instead of weighing the active ingredient of a drug, Florida just weighs the full mixture and whatever's containing it.
As Families Against Mandatory Minimum's Greg Newburn told Reason earlier this month:
"Under that language, if you hand me a 12-ounce can of Coke, but just before you hand it to me you mix 1 gram of cocaine into the liquid, then you call the cops and tell them I'm drinking cocaine-laced Coca-Cola, I face a 7-year mandatory minimum for 'trafficking in cocaine' (more than 200 grams but less than 400 grams). And since Florida removed the mens rea requirement, the state doesn't even need to prove I knew the cocaine was in the can. I can present my lack of knowledge as an affirmative defense, but the jury instructions permit a jury to presume the defendant had knowledge of the illegal substance based solely on the possession."
Florida is not alone in imposing awful mandatory minimums for drug users, but its laws are the worst in the country.