Ten states have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Could Florida become the 11th within the next two years?
That’s the idea that some Florida Democrats are advocating. State Sen. Randolph Bracy from Orlando unveiled a resolution calling for the Florida Legislature to place a state constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot that would give people over 21 the right cultivate, possess and use cannabis.
Bracy was unavailable for comment this week, but he told the Miami New Times that even if his measure doesn’t get through the Legislature in the upcoming session that begins next week, he’ll keep on reintroducing it as long as he continues to serve in Tallahassee.
“Whether we decide to do something or not, I think legalization is coming,” he tells the New Times. “I just think this initiative gives my colleagues something to think about going forward.”
Meanwhile, two other Democrats in the House – state Rep. Michael Grieco from Miami Beach and Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith from Orange County – have introduced a bill that would create a path to full access to cannabis in Florida and a structure for its cultivation, sale and taxation.
“With bipartisan efforts in criminal justice reform reaching new levels this year, it is the right time for Florida to start having a real conversation about legalizing marijuana for adult use. It’s coming one way or another, either by a 2020/2022 ballot measure or from us here in the legislature,” Grieco said in a statement.
“Continuing to criminalize responsible adult use of cannabis just doesn’t make any sense. There’s no reason cannabis can’t be regulated in ways similar to alcohol,” adds Smith. “No one is dying from cannabis overdoses, but they are getting arrested and being given criminal records for no good reason. A majority of Floridians support legalizing adult-use cannabis so let’s do this already.”
A University of North Florida poll from a year ago showed that 62 percent of Floridians either strongly or somewhat support legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes. Thirty-five percent oppose the idea.
A proposed Florida constitutional amendment would need 60 percent voter approval to pass.
It took two efforts for Floridians to pass a constitutional amendment measure allowing Floridians to use medical marijuana. When the measure was first on the ballot in November 2014, it got 57 percent approval. It passed in 2016 with more than 71 percent of the vote.
Michigan became the tenth state in the nation to legalize recreational pot in last November’s midterm elections. Utah and Missouri also both voted to legalize medicinal marijuana.