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How Drug Possession Weight is Calculated in Florida

Mike Riggs recently commented regarding Florida's drug possession laws reporting about a person in Florida who was fired from his job due to what he, and one person in possession of LSD, deem to be a mandatory minimum within the drug law.  The "inordinate mandatory minimum" within the drug law that he wrote upon, dealt with the medium in which the LSD was fixed.  In this case, he had or roughly 25 doses of LSD fixed to paper, which would weigh, without the paper, 4-5 milligrams.

 I do not know how the e-mailer exactly got away with his claim that this was just a small quantity of LSD, however because it was fixed in a medium, he qualified for a mandatory minimum sentence under the guidelines.  Even though 25 doses isn't necessarily a "small" amount of LSD in the eyes of an average jury, it had a devastating effect on his life which was out of proportion to his crime.

This raised an interesting comment made by Greg Newburn of FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) regarding a gram of cocaine mixed into in a can of coca-cola.

Section 893.15, Florida Statutes states:
(6) A mixture, as defined in s. 893.02, containing any controlled substance described in this section includes, but is not limited to, a solution or a dosage unit, including but not limited to, a pill or tablet, containing a controlled substance. 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.
There was a statement made that you would have more than 200 grams of cocaine fixed in a medium, and thus qualify for a large mandatory minimum sentence.  You would have more than 200 grams of cocaine fixed in a medium even if you discarded the weight of the aluminum container.

It is an interesting take on the situation, and of course, it acknowledges the recent decision regarding the lack of requirement of mens rea in Florida.  I can see the burden put upon the state in a chemical test of this variety, but what about identifiable narcotics in a fixed medium?  It seems like the simplest argument against mandatory minimums or constitutional arguments can be made, would exist in a circumstance with a readily identifiable component of buffer, time release, capsule, acetaminophen, or any other substance which would contribute to weight.  Or, in a circumstance where a capsule is being measured instead of a substance, an argument that the capsules should be removed as a container.

Future challenges when the ideas of justice and mandatory minimum sentencing clash may include such arguments.






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