Two bills introduced in Florida would authorize marijuana to be taxed and regulated similar to alcohol, legalizing the plant, and effectively thwarting the federal prohibition on the same.
Senate Bill 1176 (S.1176) and House Bill 1297 (H.1297), introduced by Sen. Dwight Bullard (D-39) and Rep. Randolph Bracy (D-45), respectively, would make Florida the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes through the legislature rather than the popular vote should either pass into law.
The bills would allow individuals aged 21 or older to do the following:
"(a) Use, possess, or transport marijuana accessories and up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana.
(b) Transfer or furnish, without remuneration, up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to 6 seedlings to a person who is 21 years of age or older.
(c) Possess, grow, cultivate, process, or transport up to 6 marijuana plants, including seedlings, and possess the marijuana produced by the marijuana plants on the premises where the plants were grown.
(d) Purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, up to 6 seedlings, and marijuana accessories from a retail marijuana store."
Under the legislation, prospective marijuana retailers would need to apply for licenses through the state, which could cost up to $5000. Marijuana retail operations would not be allowed within 500 feet of an existing school building. If passed, the act would take effect by July 1, 2016. Persons who possess marijuana in manners not outlined specifically in the bills would still be subject to civil and criminal penalties.
The passage of these bills would mark an enormous step in the right direction for cannabis rights advocates in the state of Florida. The top-down federal mandates that have failed for so many decades are being replaced by a more compassionate, decentralized approach that is responsive to the needs of the people.
Activists should embrace this tremendous opportunity to make it more difficult for individuals to be locked in cages for the non-violent non-crime of marijuana possession. The end of the federal drug war is on its way whether detractors like it or not. Measures such as S.1176 and H.1297 would help us toward that inevitable goal.
S.1176 is currently in the Regulated Industries Committee while H.1297 has yet to receive a committee assignment. Both bills must pass through their committee assignments successfully before they can receive full votes in their respective chambers.
HOW TO SUPPORT THIS BILL
If you live in the state of Florida, click HERE for specific action steps you can take to support S.1176 and H.1297.
If you live in different state, contact your state legislators and urge them to introduce a supporting bill such as our P.E.A.C.E (Preventing Excessive Allocations for Cannabis Enforcement) Act.