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Drug Use

You are pulled over by the police who claim they can smell marijuana in your vehicle. You are asked to exit the car so that the police can perform a search of its interior. Is this legal? In many cases, the answer is “yes.”

The case of State v. Betz has answered the question that has been on the minds of many, particularly as the legalization of marijuana has become the norm in several states. What the Second District Court of Appeal said in this case is that the smell of marijuana coming from a vehicle gives the police probable cause to conduct a search. Not only of the person but of the vehicle as well.

The ruling went on to say, however, that probably cause from the smell of marijuana does not extend to any containers in the vehicle or its trunk. The police can conduct a search of the interior of a vehicle but are not permitted to open any container they find therein. They are also not permitted to ask the driver to pop the trunk.

The ruling was appealed and made its way to the Supreme Court of Florida. The court agreed. They also went on to say that a person’s behavior at the time of the traffic stop could give the police the additional probably cause necessary to search the rest of the vehicle. So what does that tell us?

If you are pulled over by the police, remain as calm as possible. Should you act guilty, expect to be treated as such. And don’t expect a court to automatically throw out evidence against you. Courts more often than not rule in favor of the police in cases such as this. This is evidenced by State v. Betz. Your best option is to remain calm and cooperative and let your attorney sort out the details.

If you are dealing with a drug arrest in Orlando, contact our offices today. A member of our team will review the details of your arrest and advise you as to your best next steps. Let us provide you with a free initial case evaluation now.

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You may have missed it if you weren’t watching closely. Late last year, just before Christmas rolled around, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that any person with a prescription for medical cannabis who was charged with DUI had the right to contest those charges. This would force law enforcement officials who issued the charges to prove that the person had an amount of THC in their system that impaired their ability to drive safely. Proving how much THC a person has in their system while they are behind the wheel is difficult as there are no immediately accurate tests available.
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In 2013, Nadir Ishak was arrested in the city of Mesa. An officer watched as Ishak’s car drifted into another lane and pulled him over. The officer noted that Ishak had bloodshot eyes. Ishak was ultimately charged with driving with cannabis in his system and driving under the influence. He was convicted of the cannabis charge, but not the DUI. According to reports, Ishak was denied the ability to present evidence to the court that he was registered through the state as a medical cannabis patient.

In the opinion of the court, Judge Diane M. Johnsen stated that having any amount of cannabis in the system does not preclude a person from driving safely. Driving abilities are not automatically impaired. The opinion also states that there is no wording in the law that says when a person with cannabis in their system is considered impaired. Therefore, it is reasonable that those charged with DUI because of having cannabis in their system be permitted to challenge the charge.

The appeals court ruled that a person charged with DUI due to cannabis can present evidence that they were not impaired through cross examination. The defendant may question the arresting officer and forensic scientists called to testify by the state. How this ruling will affect laws or the workings of other courts across the country remains to be seen.

As it stands, people who a police officer believes to be impaired due to having THC in their system and driving in a way that is not safe may be charged with driving under the influence. If these people attempt to contest their charges, they may, but without a ruling such as this in their own state, the contesting of those charges may be difficult. For now. Thanks to the ruling in Arizona, that may change in the near future.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Orlando, it is important to understand that a conviction could have lifelong consequences. While a first instinct may be to plead guilty and accept your fate, doing so could cost you greatly. It is in your best interest to consult an attorney experienced in DUI law. Reach out to our team for a free case evaluation and learn about your legal options. We are here to help you defend yourself against your charges.

People who believe in the herb kratom say that it offers relief from anxiety, pain and depression. Scientists say that the herb may hold the key to helping people kick addiction to opioid medications and treat chronic pain. The Drug Enforcement Agency says that is an imminent hazard to public safety.

Last month, the DEA made an announcement that it would be including kratom on the Schedule 1 list, right alongside LSD, ecstasy and marijuana. But why?

According to the DEA, kratom has no current medical use and a high potential of abuse. Proponents of the herb are outraged. People have rallied in front of the White House as a result of the announcement, and a petition circulated garnered 124,000 signatures.

Among those attempting to reverse the decision are research scientists. While arguments are being held, people who currently use the herb are rushing out to purchase as much as they can before it becomes illegal.

What Is Kratom?

Kratom has been used for centuries to relieve pain. A tropical tree found in Southeast Asia, kratom can be eaten raw, but it more typically crushed and put in capsules or brewed as a tea.

When taken in low doses, the herb is a natural stimulant. In large doses, kratom acts as a sedative. According to the CDC, there were multiple cases of non-life threatening symptoms requiring some form of treatment between the years of 2010 and 2015. The DEA says there have been at least 15 deaths caused by an overdose of the herb between 2014 and 2016.

What’s Next?

There is currently no official discussion between the DEA and anyone else to reverse the decision to classify the herb as a schedule 1 substance. The decision is temporary. The agency will work in conjunction with the FDA for the next three years in an attempt to make the decision a permanent one.

If you or a loved one has been accused of a drug crime in Orlando or the surrounding area, call our office. A member of our team will review the details of your case at no cost to you and advise you of your options. Call today or browse our website for more information about our firm.

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Florida is quickly joining a national pandemic. Toxicologists, epidemiologists and law enforcement officials are warning the public: The drugs you are buying on the street may not be what you think they are.

Across the country, people are dying of overdoses in record numbers. Heroin is being laced with fentanyl, and people are not always aware. In some cases, heroin isn’t being sold at all. Drug dealers are supplying pure fentanyl and it is killing its victims. Medical examiners have said that Florida has seen a doubling of fatal overdoses thanks to this synthetic pain killer.

In South Florida, heroin deaths rose by 100 percent in Miami-Dade, by nearly 200 percent in Broward, and Palm Beach saw a rise in deaths of more than 400 percent. The data was taken from the first half of 2015. This year, the numbers are just as startling.

But what is fentanyl? The synthetic drug is a prescription pain killer. It can be 50 times as potent as heroin. In hospitals, it is often used in transdermal form, placed on patches that are then attached to the skin. In other cases, it is injected before a procedure. In the street, it is being used to cut heroin and heighten its effects. Unfortunately, the people that are cutting the drugs have no real working knowledge of dosages or even who will ultimately be buying their product. There is little doubt that people are truly taking their lives in their own hands when they choose to purchase heroin in today’s society.

Users who combine heroin and fentanyl, whether knowingly so or not, experience a euphoric high that is more intense than that realized with heroin alone. What happens, ultimately, is that people stop breathing. When given this type of narcotic, the body begins to lose its natural desire to take in oxygen.

The pandemic is reaching outrageous levels throughout the country and in South Florida particularly. Public health officials have issued multiple warnings, but these warnings may not be heeded by many. Sadly, people are paying with their lives.

If you have been arrested for a drug crime in Orlando or the surrounding area, please reach out to our attorneys. We will schedule a free case evaluation where we will advise you of your options. Call today to schedule your appointment.

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There are currently four states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — as well as a handful of cities that have completely legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use. In addition, there are 21 other states, plus Washington, D.C., have legalized cannabis for medical use. Come November, Florida could become the next. There is a new state constitutional amendment being put to a vote in November that would allow those with “debilitating medical conditions” to use marijuana to treat and control their symptoms.

This isn’t the first time medical marijuana has been voted on. A similar bill, albeit with more ambiguous wording, was voted on in 2014. Support was strong, but a last-push effort from an opposition group caused the bill to fail. This year, there is massive support for medical marijuana (and recreational, though it’s not on the ballot) — up to 80 percent — but, as we’ve seen before, the voters are fickle. Only the November vote can truly tell whether medical marijuana will come to Florida.

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It’s important for voters to understand exactly what it is they are voting for. There are many different myths surrounding marijuana, medical or otherwise. Let’s bust those myths, both positive and negative, here and now.

Despite what proponents and opponents of marijuana may believe, there are both positives and negatives of legalizing weed. While a very specific group of patients can use medical cannabis after a law passed by Governor Rick Scott a couple of years ago, the new referendum would add more conditions to the list. That would allow more people to get treatment that could potentially help, but could also cause more trouble for the state. Whether the amendment passes or fails, only time will tell if the voters made the right decision.

Cooking_CrackIt is generally illegal to possess drugs in Florida and, if you are caught, you could be subject to fines and penalties, including jail time. You have several options for resolving your charges in Florida thanks to the state legislature. Being arrested for drug possession does not necessarily mean that you will be labeled a criminal. Here is a brief explanation of drug possession charges in our state.

Controlled Substances

You are arrested for drug possession when the officer discovers that you are holding a controlled substance. You may have something in your pocket, in a bag or even in your car or home. Controlled substances in Florida include cocaine, heroin, GHB, hydrocodone, marijuana and MDMA. They also include methamphetamine, oxycodone, synthetic drugs and Xanax.

Different Options for Resolution

The ability you have to resolve your drug case has variables. Your needs, the specific laws and your guilt or innocence will have an effect on the outcome of your case. Florida law offers several sentencing alternatives that are available to the courts.

Pretrial Diversion

This is a program similar to probation. You report to a supervisor, undergo drug testing, refrain from criminal activity and perform community service. Once you have completed pretrial diversion, your charges are dropped.

Pretrial Intervention

This is similar to pretrial diversion. The difference is that you do not have to have a criminal-free past to be accepted into intervention. You have all of the same reporting duties as in diversion and the same compliance regulations. Unfortunately, many judges do not participate in this program. It is important that you speak with your attorney and find out if the judge assigned to your case offers this sentencing option.

Drug Court

This is a diversionary program for repeat offenders. Your case will be managed and you will participate in specific programs. If you maintain compliance and graduate from drug court, your charges will be dropped. This can be an effective program for those who are addicted to drugs.

If you have been arrested for a drug crime in Florida, you have options. Call our office today for a free case evaluation. We are here to help you receive the best sentencing option for your circumstances. Call now for assistance.

rolling blunt in carMarijuana is become legal in more and more states every year, whether for recreational or, more commonly, for medical use. In 20 states, it can be prescribed for different ailments. In some states, only severe conditions qualify. In others, prescriptions can be made for conditions as common as insomnia. In four other states, plus Washington, D.C., recreational marijuana is also legal. Though it is technically still a banned substance under federal law, the Drug Enforcement Agency rarely gets involved in states where it is legal.

One state where recreational use of pot is legal is Washington. It was one of the first states to adopt weed legalization statutes, first for medical use then for recreational use in 2013. Due to its widespread popularity, officials expect pot sales to bring in at least $1 billion in tax revenue over the next four years. But that’s not the only statistic it’s raising: Pot is also taking a toll on drivers in Washington state.

Startling Figures

teens smoking a bongIn 2014, marijuana was considered a factor in 17 percent of all fatal accidents in the state — up from 8 percent in the previous year. While that’s still lower than the nearly 30 percent of fatalities that involved drunk driving, it’s still a startling figure. According to Peter Kissinger, CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety who conducted the study, “The significant increase in fatal crashes involving marijuana is alarming. Washington serves as an eye-opening case study for what other states may experience with road safety after legalizing the drug.”

However, it’s almost impossible to say whether the driver who caused the fatal accident was high at the time, especially if they themselves were killed in the accident. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that gets the user high, can stay in the stay in the bloodstream for weeks or even months after initial consumption. So, blood tests for someone who smoked an hour before driving could look similar to someone who smoked weeks ago. That would be similar to arresting someone because they had a glass of wine last week, then drove today.

Other Problems with Measuring THC

man smoking bluntIn addition to the inefficiency of blood tests, THC affects each individual in a different way. For some, just one or two hits off of a blunt can severely impair their ability to open a fridge door, much less operate a car. But, another person could eat an entire pot brownie with highly concentrated THC and have it barely affect their ability to drive. And it’s not so easy to categorize different genders or ethnicities as being more or less affected by the drug.

The main factor is experience with marijuana, but even then, it’s not a perfect classification system. An inexperienced smoker may still have a high tolerance, while a veteran may still “feel it” after only a short time. Instead of looking at THC levels, then, or trying to set a “legal limit” for how much THC can be in the blood, AAA recommends that officers look at different factors if they pull over a driver who has been using pot. These include measuring psychological and, more easily, behavioral evidence of being high.

Trying to Test for THC

cannabix pot breathalyzerOne sure way an officer can tell a driver has been smoking is the lingering smell and, in some cases, bloodshot eyes. If they suspect a driver has used pot recently, they can order a blood test. However, such a test can take weeks to complete after the results have gotten to the lab. This is an efficient system, both when it comes to time and when it comes to results. Instead, scientists are working on a new solution.

Herb Hill, a chemistry professor at Washington State University in Pullman, and his team are working on a kind of Breathalyzer that detects THC. The prototype of the device, called the Cannabix, uses something called ion mobility spectrometry, which is used by airports and the military to detect explosives and chemical warfare agents. However, it will be years before the technology is accurately perfected, and in the meantime other solutions like cheek swabs are also being considered. Whatever the option chosen, there is still the element of uncertainty regarding how much THC should be considered “impairing.”

Weed Legalization Coming to Florida?

So far, any kind of use of marijuana is illegal in Florida. However, if voters have their way in November, that may change. According to recent polls, 80 percent of voters say they would vote to pass a state constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana. The amendment only needs 60 percent approval to pass. However, only 56 percent said they would vote to legalize recreational marijuana.

However, that kind of support was also present when a similar referendum was up for a vote in 2014. The bill failed at the last minute due to a massive campaign by opposers of marijuana. The same kind of campaign is promised again by opposition. The amendment failing would leaving Florida in a shrinking group of states who still oppose any kind of marijuana use within their borders.

Many people have heard of Rohypnol. If they haven’t heard the trade-name, they have heard it by its street name: roofies, or the Date Rape Drug. But what exactly is Rohypnol? Much is known about its illegal uses, but not much is widely known about what the drug actually is. Here’s what you need to know.

The Formalities

Rohypnol is a brand name of a benzodiazepine. It is the same drug class as Valium, Librium and Xanax. Rohypnol is not legal in the United States, but it is legally available in other countries. Common names for the drug include: R2, roofies, rope, lunch money drug, date rape drug, and forget me drug.

What It Is

The drug is commonly used for the short-term treatment of insomnia. It is also used as a pre-medication for surgeries and given for inducing anesthesia. The effects of the drug include muscle relaxation, sedation, anxiety reduction and prevention of convulsions. The sedative effects of Rohypnol are known to be between seven and 10 times stronger than those of Valium. The effects of the drug appear about 15 minutes after ingestion and last for 12 hours or more.

The Date Rape Drug

Rohypnol has been used in sexual assaults because it causes partial amnesia. Not only does it completely relax the person who ingests it, but that person remembers very little of what happened when they were on the drug. It can be difficult to detect Rohypnol in the system, as a urine sample must be collected within 72 hours of ingestion to be considered accurate.


Even though Rohypnol is primarily known to many as the date rape drug, it is abused for other reasons. It is used to boost the effects of heroin, make the effects of cocaine even, and is used among rave party attendees. The primary abusers of the drug have statistically been shown to be young males between the ages of 13 and 30.

Overuse of Rohypnol can lead to dependence. There can also be withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued.

If you have been accused of a sex crime in Orlando related to Rohypnol, call our office. A member of our team will provide you with a free case evaluation. Call us today or browse our website for more information on how we can assist you as you stand up for your rights in court.

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