Florida could further expand access to marijuana under a series of bills proposed prior to this year’s legislature that include changes to the rules on medicinal cannabis and even long-term measures to legalize recreational use.
The bills come with a separate step to propose recreational use to voters in 2022 as a constitutional amendment to the state after a successful 2016 election to approve medical marijuana. Advocacy group Make It Legal says about 200,000 more signatures need to be collected. 766,000 are needed to put the issue in front of the voters.
State legislature leaders, who have been controlled by Republicans for more than two decades, have long been opposed to legalizing recreational use generally, but at least one Republican senator has sponsored a bill that will make it legal for people over 21 to glow for fun. Senator Jeff Brandes, a central Florida lawmaker, not only spoke out in favor of the measure, but said it made sense to give lawmakers an initial push.
“My argument has always been that this should be a legislative matter,” he said. “And if the legislature does not act, the people should be able to act to pass it through a constitutional amendment.”
At the next session of the legislature, which begins on March 2, more than a dozen bills have been submitted for consideration. They fall broadly into three categories: reforming the current medical marijuana system, legalizing recreational use, and removing criminal penalties for certain marijuana-related offenses.
“This is a coordinated effort to give lawmakers as many options as possible to legalize cannabis,” said Democratic MP Carlos Smith.
Some lawmakers say more research needs to be done to determine the safety and effects of marijuana before considering expanding access to marijuana. Republican MP Thad Altman said he would like to see the drug first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Republican Senator Dennis Baxley warned that marijuana could be the “snake oil of our time.”
A bill would reform the medical marijuana system set in motion by the 2016 referendum. The current system has been criticized for not allowing enough medical marijuana to reach those who need it and because medical marijuana treatment centers are required to grow, process and dispose of medical marijuana in-house. Brandes called the current system “essentially a government-sanctioned cartel”.
A group of bills would set up a licensing system for medical marijuana retail establishments and remove internal requirements by allowing licensed retail establishments to enter into contracts with treatment centers. Similar bills would:
– Establish a separate license for retailing, transporting and growing marijuana; Establish security policies for these companies and allow municipalities to limit the number of facilities in their jurisdictions.
– Protection for civil servants and applicants who use medical marijuana.
– Increase the limit on how much medical marijuana doctors can spend and how much some disabled patients can use.
Another set of bills would allow recreational marijuana use, as envisaged in the proposed election initiative for 2022, and set rules for licensing and taxation. These bills would:
– A bill would allow recreational marijuana to be bought and used by anyone aged 21 and over while people are unable to grow their own marijuana.
– A separate bill would allow the above plus home grown marijuana.
The third category of bills – some of which are apparently bipartisan – would lift some criminal penalties, allow re-convictions for some marijuana-related offenses, and allow the suppression of records of some marijuana crimes so that the crimes can be accommodated or an offender’s crime does not unduly affect employment opportunities later in life.
“I hope we can get people out of prison who shouldn’t be there for such a crime,” said Democratic MP Yvonne Hinson, hoping to find a way for “a fruitful life” because we know that scars are attached . “
These bills would:
– Provide, reschedule, review, and waive conviction-related charges for the same marijuana-related charges.
– Allow alternative sentences for inmates jailed for marijuana-related crimes.
– Allow some marijuana offenders to delete their records for free.
– Allow some marijuana offenders to erase their criminal history for a fee of $ 75.
– Exempt some criminal records from public record requirements.
– Remove mandatory minimum sentences for some marijuana trade crimes.