A group in Florida is circling a petition that would allow residents to vote in November 2016 for an amendment to the State’s constitution that would legalize up to one ounce of marijuana for residents over the age of 21. Sensible Florida, the organization promoting the amendment, hopes to regulate marijuana similar to the regulations currently in place in Florida with regards to alcohol.
Specifics of the Law
According to Sensible Florida, the law would legalize marijuana for any resident who is over the age of 21, allowing them to possess an ounce or less. In addition, residents would be permitted to grow up to six plants at home. The law makes it illegal to drive while under the influence of cannabis and, similar to Colorado, establishes a license-regulated system of distribution to insure consumer safety. The group faces an uphill battle as a measure to legalize medical marijuana failed by two percentage points in the 2014 polls. Senator Dwight Bullard filed a bill in 2014 that would have allowed residents to possess up to two-and-a-half ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants, but the bill died before it came before the legislature.
Sensible Florida, along with an associated group, Regulate Florida, say that because the law is similar to that passed in Colorado a few years ago, they expect a positive impact should the law be passed in Florida. The groups say that marijuana usage among teens has declined in Colorado since the passage of the law, and that passage of laws that create a regulated marijuana industry is a safer system than the current black market. A report released by the Drug Policy Alliance supports these statistics, showing that violent crime in Denver decreased by more than two percent in the first 11 months of 2014, while burglaries decreased by almost 10 percent and property crime was down by almost nine percent. Traffic fatalities in Colorado also declined by three percent in 2014.
Although most proponents of marijuana legalization say that the economic benefit of legalization should not be the main focus, Colorado is an example of how regulation can significantly increase revenue. Between January and October 2014, tax revenue from the sale of marijuana alone was almost $41 million. This surplus of funds has allowed the state to hire school health professionals, filling a gap that was created after budget cuts in 2011. The healthcare workers in schools will focus on mental health support as well as drug use education. In addition, dispensaries in the state have added more than 280 jobs at salaries that average $17 per hour.
Possession Policies in Florida Cities and Counties
Florida cities, including Hallandale Beach, Miami Beach and Key West announced they will decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis, while Broward County is considering an ordinance that would make marijuana possession a civil fine rather than criminal. St. Petersburg is also considering the decriminalization of small-time marijuana possession to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders in local jails.
Call Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins to Learn More
For more information on the Florida Cannabis Act, contact Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A. If you or a loved one has been charged with marijuana possession, we can advise you on what your next steps should be and what rights you have. Our attorneys have more than 30 years combined experience in criminal law. Visit us online and complete our simple query form, or give us a call today at (727) 478-4125 to arrange your initial consultation.