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Leslie Sammis
Criminal and DUI Defense Attorney in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL
Criminal and DUI Defense Attorney in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL

Leslie's posts

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I had fun speaking on the legal panel for Tampa Hempfest today with Michael Minardi & Jhenerr Hines. Vote Yes on 2 to legalize Medical Marijuana in Florida in 2016.

We talked about recent changes to the Florida's Right to Try Act to include medical marijuana for the terminally ill, local city ordinances in Tampa to decriminalize cannabis, and Amendment 2 to legalize medical marijuana in Florida in 2016.

Ballot Language

BALLOT TITLE: Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions

BALLOT SUMMARY: Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.



ARTICLE X, SECTION 29.– Medical marijuana production, possession and use.


(1) The medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or caregiver in compliance with this section is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law.

(2) A physician shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law solely for issuing a physician certification with reasonable care to a person diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition in compliance with this section.

(3) Actions and conduct by a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center registered with the Department, or its agents or employees, and in compliance with this section and Department regulations, shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law.

(b) DEFINITIONS. For purposes of this section, the following words and terms shall have the following meanings:

(1) “Debilitating Medical Condition” means cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

(2) “Department” means the Department of Health or its successor agency.

(3) “Identification card” means a document issued by the Department that identifies a qualifying patient or a caregiver.

(4) “Marijuana” has the meaning given cannabis in Section 893.02(3), Florida Statutes (2014), and, in addition, “Low-THC cannabis” as defined in Section 381.986(1)(b), Florida Statutes (2014), shall also be included in the meaning of the term “marijuana.”

(5) “Medical Marijuana Treatment Center” (MMTC) means an entity that acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes (including development of related products such as food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments), transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials to qualifying patients or their caregivers and is registered by the Department.

(6) “Medical use” means the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of an amount of marijuana not in conflict with Department rules, or of related supplies by a qualifying patient or caregiver for use by the caregiver’s designated qualifying patient for the treatment of a debilitating medical condition.

(7) “Caregiver” means a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years old who has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient's medical use of marijuana and has qualified for and obtained a caregiver identification card issued by the Department. The Department may limit the number of qualifying patients a caregiver may assist at one time and the number of caregivers that a qualifying patient may have at one time. Caregivers are prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for medical use by the qualifying patient.

(8) “Physician” means a person who is licensed to practice medicine in Florida.

(9) “Physician certification” means a written document signed by a physician, stating that in the physician's professional opinion, the patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition, that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for the patient, and for how long the physician recommends the medical use of marijuana for the patient. A physician certification may only be provided after the physician has conducted a physical examination and a full assessment of the medical history of the patient. In order for a physician certification to be issued to a minor, a parent or legal guardian of the minor must consent in writing.

(10) “Qualifying patient” means a person who has been diagnosed to have a debilitating medical condition, who has a physician certification and a valid qualifying patient identification card. If the Department does not begin issuing identification cards within nine (9) months after the effective date of this section, then a valid physician certification will serve as a patient identification card in order to allow a person to become a "qualifying patient" until the Department begins issuing identification cards.


(1) Nothing in this section allows for a violation of any law other than for conduct in compliance with the provisions of this section.

(2) Nothing in this section shall affect or repeal laws relating to non-medical use, possession, production, or sale of marijuana.

(3) Nothing in this section authorizes the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.

(4) Nothing in this section shall permit the operation of any vehicle, aircraft, train or boat while under the influence of marijuana.

(5) Nothing in this section requires the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law.

(6) Nothing in this section shall require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any correctional institution or detention facility or place of education or employment, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.

(7) Nothing in this section shall require any health insurance provider or any government agency or authority to reimburse any person for expenses related to the medical use of marijuana.

(8) Nothing in this section shall affect or repeal laws relating to negligence or professional malpractice on the part of a qualified patient, caregiver, physician, MMTC, or its agents or employees.

(d) DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT. The Department shall issue reasonable regulations necessary for the implementation and enforcement of this section. The purpose of the regulations is to ensure the availability and safe use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients. It is the duty of the Department to promulgate regulations in a timely fashion.

(1) Implementing Regulations. In order to allow the Department sufficient time after passage of this section, the following regulations shall be promulgated no later than six (6) months after the effective date of this section:

a. Procedures for the issuance and annual renewal of qualifying patient identification cards to people with physician certifications and standards for renewal of such identification cards. Before issuing an identification card to a minor, the Department must receive written consent from the minor’s parent or legal guardian, in addition to the physician certification.

b. Procedures establishing qualifications and standards for caregivers, including conducting appropriate background checks, and procedures for the issuance and annual renewal of caregiver identification cards.

c. Procedures for the registration of MMTCs that include procedures for the issuance, renewal, suspension and revocation of registration, and standards to ensure proper security, record keeping, testing, labeling, inspection, and safety.

d. A regulation that defines the amount of marijuana that could reasonably be presumed to be an adequate supply for qualifying patients’ medical use, based on the best available evidence. This presumption as to quantity may be overcome with evidence of a particular qualifying patient’s appropriate medical use.

(2) Identification cards and registrations. The Department shall begin issuing qualifying patient and caregiver identification cards, and registering MMTCs no later than nine (9) months after the effective date of this section.

(3) If the Department does not issue regulations, or if the Department does not begin issuing identification cards and registering MMTCs within the time limits set in this section, any Florida citizen shall have standing to seek judicial relief to compel compliance with the Department’s constitutional duties.

(4) The Department shall protect the confidentiality of all qualifying patients. All records containing the identity of qualifying patients shall be confidential and kept from public disclosure other than for valid medical or law enforcement purposes.

(e) LEGISLATION. Nothing in this section shall limit the legislature from enacting laws consistent with this section.

(f) SEVERABILITY. The provisions of this section are severable and if any clause, sentence, paragraph or section of this measure, or an application thereof, is adjudged invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction other provisions shall continue to be in effect to the fullest extent possible.

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The City Council in Tampa created an ordinance that decriminalized misdemeanor amounts of marijuana. Over the past 6 months, Tampa Police Department is issuing the citations less than half the time and the rest of the time they are still making an arrest when they find a small amount of cannabis or paraphernalia.

People identified as black are cited and arrested more often then people identified as white. This blog discusses the way officers with Tampa Police Department of handling marijuana cases.

I recently obtained a report filed by TPD at the request of the Tampa City Council to address the effectiveness of the program during a six month period from March 31, 2016 through September 30, 2016.

That report provided these statistics: 


Time Period: March 31 through September 30, 2016.
1. Total number of citations issued?         409
2. How many paid civil fine within 30 days? 198
3. How many had previous citation issued?  3
4. Racial distribution: 1-0, A-3, B-243, W-160, U-3
5. Ethnicity: Hispanic 27 Non-Hispanic 148

Adult Misdemeanor Marijuana Arrests (Charges) Total: 529
1. Racial distribution: 1-0, A-I, 8-306, W-222, U-O
2. Ethnicity:   Hispanic 61 Non-Hispanic 359
3. Reason arrest instead of citation:
a. Other charges:         135
b. Insufficient ties to Hillsborough County:    9
c. Prior unpaid marijuana citation:    1
d. Officer discretion:   41

Same Time Period 2015 Adult Marijuana Arrests: 921

Code Descriptors: 
I - American Indian / Alaskan Native 
A - Asian / Pacific Islander
B - Black
W - White
U - Unknown
Demographic Detail of Unpaid Marijuana Civil Citations
Total 211 records
Total Male Female
Black 148 120 28
White  61 42 19
Asian/Pacific Islander   2 1 1
American Indian/Alaskan Native   0
Unknown   0 

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What is the best possible outcome in a criminal case after an arrest? Getting the charges "nol filed" and then getting an administrative expunction under Florida Statute 943.0581 for Administrative expunction and FDLE's FAC Rule c11C-7.008 which explains the Administrative Expunction Procedures. The law enforcement agency, a prosecutor, or a judge must first determine that the arrest was unlawful or otherwise made by mistake.

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Good post I saw from Attorney +W.F. Casey Ebsary, Jr. on Florida Highway Patrol Cop Gone Wild. The FHP trooper allegedly pulled a woman over for a routine traffic stop and ended up grouping her under her shirt. He got caught because he was allegedly dumb enough to post the details on #SnapChat. FHP monitored the conversation which confirmed the ladies version of events. To their credit, FHP was smart enough to terminate him quickly. This is one reason why women want to drive to a safe and well-lit area during a traffic stop.
Florida High Patrol Cop Gone Wild

#Allegedly groped a women during a traffic stop. Then dumb enough to #SnapChat it? "[D]etectives monitored a Snapchat conversation between the victim and Gonzalez, during which they said Gonzalez said things that confirmed the victim’s account of the traffic stop." #CopsGoneWild #Floriduh #Florida

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New Blog Post: The Accreditation for Florida's Arson Lab Goes Up in Smoke. Crime labs should be independent and follow the same standards as other types of forensic labs. Until then, these types of crime lab scandals will continue. Many of these lab reports are not worth the paper they are written on and neither are the accreditation certificates. But the frame is nice.

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The accreditation for Florida's arson lab goes up in smoke.

"This a huge deal. I mean, it's going to impact every single lab test that came out of that lab. When that accreditation gets pulled, that's a really big deal for the crime lab," said Tampa defense attorney Leslie Sammis.

Sammis told us no one told her the lab's accreditation was suspended. She said this information should be shared with every defense attorney in Florida.

"So if prosecutors don't know about it, that's a really big problem," said Sammis. "And if the prosecutors do know about it, and they're not sending out to the criminal defense attorney, that's an even bigger problem."

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Major problems with a recent DUI sobriety checkpoint in Tampa hosted by the Tampa Police Department. The operational plan said stop every 5th vehicle. Officers in the field got that one rule wrong over and over. That was just the most obvious problem. TPD should stop spending all this grant money on checkpoints and stopping innocent citizens until they can get it right.

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I wrote a new blog on whether a judge can deny a petition to seal or expunge an arrest record in Florida.

At the Sammis Law Firm we charge a flat fee of $950 (with no hidden costs) to seal or expunge a criminal record in Tampa, Hillsborough County, or throughout the entire State of Florida.

Although I've done hundreds of these petitions, I've never actually seen a judge deny a petition to seal or expunge a record. But this article explains how a judge could exercise its discretion to do so legally under Florida law.

Read more about sealing or expunging a criminal record in Florida -

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Missouri vs. McNeely’s Impact in Florida – F.S. Section 316.1933 is Unconstitutional

In a recent trial court level decision, State vs. Liles, 21 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 883a (FLWSUPP 2019LILE), a Circuit Court Judge in Florida found that Section 316.1933 is unconstitutional. Section 316.1933 previously allowed a forced blood draw even before an arrest with probable cause existed of DUI + a crash with serious bodily injury or death. The court found that reliance on Section 316.1933 cannot form the basis for a good faith exception to the exclusionary rule.

The Court also found that a warrantless blood draw without consent or exigent circumstances violates state and federal constitutional protections.

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