Florida Bill Would Legalize Marijuana

A bill that would make Florida the 11th U.S. state to legalize marijuana has been filed in Florida’s Legislature.

House Bill 1117 would legalize the possession and use of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for those 21 and older, who would also be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use. A regulated system of marijuana retail outlets would be authorized to sell the plant and products made from it. Consuming marijuana in public places would remain illegal, but would be just an $100 ticket with no possibility of a criminal charge or jail time.

For those under 21, marijuana possession would be reduced to a penalty of $200 – $400 for a first offense, with the fine increasing if the individual is caught again.

The summary of the measure states that it:

Exempts certain activities involving marijuana from use & possession offenses; authorizes persons age 21 & over to engage in certain activities involving personal use of marijuana in limited amounts; provides for licensure of marijuana establishments that may engage in manufacture or sell of marijuana, marijuana products & marijuana accessories; provides for limits on number of retail marijuana stores in localities; provides standards for prospective licensees & restrictions on location of marijuana establishments; authorizes localities to prohibit one or more types of marijuana establishments; provides an exemption from specified provisions for marijuana research.

House Bill 1117 was filed by State Representative Michael Grieco and is cosponsored by Representatives Carlos Smith and Anna Eskamani, all Democrats.

The following link has the full text of this legislation: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/1117/BillText/Filed/PDF

Florida, of course, already has legal medical marijuana through the passage of Amendment 2 in 2016. However, the law only allows marijuana to be used for a limited number of conditions and there are only a small number of dispensaries. Below are the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Florida:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV+
  • AIDS
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those listed
  • Terminal illness
  • Chronic nonmalignant pain

John Morgan, who was the driving force behind Florida’s successful medical marijuana legalization campaign, is looking to put the full legalization of marijuana to a vote of the people by 2020, if lawmakers don’t act on House Bill 1117 or a similar measure.

“Maybe it’s time for full legalization”, Morgan said in a Tweet last year. “It would pass with Flying Colors!” Morgan goes on to say that “I’m going to look at starting a fund where we all can donate to get full marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2020”.

Morgan says that “When you mess with the will of the people there are unintended consequences! The cannabis industry is well funded now. Money won’t be a problem.”

According to polling released last year, a strong majority of Florida voters support legalizing marijuana. The survey out of the University of North Florida found that 62 percent of registered voters would back a state law regulating marijuana just like alcohol — with 45 percent saying they’d “strongly support” a move to fully legalize marijuana.

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