Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Could Florida Be The Next State To Legalize Recreational Marijuana?

Although the Florida legislature is just now getting to the point of allowing patients to smoke medical marijuana – they may have felt some pressure to do this by newly elected Governor Ron DeSantis — one of the more ambitious suits in the State House, Miami Beach Representative Michael Grieco, believes it is time to turn things up a notch by pushing the issue of full-blown legalization. If he has any luck at all, the state could be one of the next to legalize the leaf for recreational use.

Earlier this week, Grieco along with Orlando Democratic Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith introduced a piece of legislation (HB 1117) designed to establish a taxed and regulated pot market.

RELATED: Florida’s Medical Marijuana Programs Continue To Fail Patients

It’s pretty much the same deal that has been put into place in other legal states. It would give adults 21 and over the freedom to purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of weed at a time. Public consumption would remain illegal, and anyone who violates this part of the law would be slapped with a $100 fine.

The bill, along with a separate measure (HB 1119) also deals with the subjects of taxes, the vertical integration model and application fees.

But it seems unlikely that the proposal will receive any consideration at all, especially since legislative forces have so adamantly opposed marijuana reform in the past. House Speaker José Oliva, the gatekeeper to whether the bills get a  vote, is still complaining that medical marijuana is just a front for advocates to usher in total legalization. So, needless to say, lawmakers are not expecting his support.

But this is what the majority of Floridians want, Grieco says, and the bill was written to reflect that.

Furthermore, if the proposals do not pass, some group is going to swoop in a get a ballot initiative passed, just like they did with medical marijuana. There is no stopping the issue from moving forward, Grieco says.

“We’re going to see next year a majority of Floridians voting on this,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “Even if we get pushback, it continues the conversation. It’s a conversation that’s being had nationally. I expect some movement to be had federally, prior to the presidential election next year.”

It just doesn’t make sense to continue perpetuating a prohibition standard, said Rep. Smith, who has also been instrumental in fighting the cause for smokable medical marijuana.

RELATED: Florida Judge Rules Tampa’s Strip Club King Can Home Grow Marijuana

“There’s no reason cannabis can’t be regulated in ways similar to alcohol,” he said. “No one is dying from cannabis overdoses but they are getting arrested and being given criminal records for no good reason … We expect that it’s always going to be a tough legislative route, but that’s not a reason to stop advocating for it.”

As it stands, ten states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. New Jersey, New York and Illinois are all expected to join in the fun later this year. Florida’s time seems to be on the horizon whether the state’s lawmakers get behind it or not.


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