Judge Strikes Down Broad Florida Drug Law
July 29, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
ORLANDO, Fla., July 29 (UPI) — Florida’s main anti-drug law is unconstitutional because it makes no allowance for intent, a federal judge says.
U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven, ruling in Orlando earlier this week, said the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act is the nation’s only drug law to target people who possess illicit drugs unknowingly thanks to legislative action in 2002.
She called the statute “atavistic and repugnant to the common law,” the Palm Beach Post reports.
Prosecutors argued the law does not punish innocent conduct since possession of a banned drug is never legal.
Nellie King, president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, hailed Scriven’s ruling as “courageous,” with “monumental” implications.
“What is surprising is the government’s belief that stripping the intent requirement from the drug statutes was lawful from the start,” she said.
The Legislature’s decision to deny its citizens basic rights dating back to English common law is “alarming and arrogant,” King said. “Judge Scriven’s ruling simply renews the mandates inherent in the Constitution which our Legislature opted to ignore.”
The state is expected to appeal.