U.S. Attorney of Florida’s Northern District Lawrence Keefe is taking over the prosecution of cannabis-related cases as some state prosecutors have said they will not pursue low-level charges following hemp legalization in the state, according to a WCTV report. Keefe oversees 25 Florida counties and plans on temporarily deputizing state prosecutors to help with the cannabis caseload.
Some state prosecutors have decided to stop – or temporarily halt – trying cannabis cases as it is hard to differentiate hemp from THC-rich cannabis and their offices do not have access to tests that can determine THC levels rather than just the presence of THC.
State Attorney Jack Campbell welcomed Keefe’s assistance and said the federal cases will help establish standards for cannabis-related prosecutions following hemp legalization – such as odor tests and what “still suffices as probable cause.”
Richard Greenberg, president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said he expects low-level offenders will face harsher sentences in federal court.
“I think it is unfortunate particularly this day in age when there’s a movement toward lessening the penalties for marijuana.” – Greenberg, to WCTV
Campbell said his office handles more than 1,000 misdemeanor possession cases per year but did not know exactly what level of offenses Keefe’s office would prosecute.
Some county attorneys in Nebraska, Georgia, and Texas have announced they would not take on low-level cannabis cases following hemp legalization in their respective states, citing the lack of THC tests and issues with probable cause.
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