New Bill Introduced to Decriminalize Cannabis In Florida

It’s no secret that Florida has been lagging behind the cannabis train for quite some time now. However, with one state after another realizing the effects of both decriminalized and legalized industries, the sunshine state is finally getting on board. Well, almost. 

A Florida lawmaker introduced a bill on Monday Aug. 5 that would decriminalize low-level cannabis possession in the state. Filing the legislation was Democratric Representative Shervin Jones, who noted the long standing disproportionate effects that cannabis arrests have had on minority communities. “We must restore justice to our broken criminal justice system,” Jones stated in a press release. “For far too long, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana, and we must end this injustice once and for all.” 

“After being charged with possession, many Floridians feel the lasting impact as their student financial aid, employment opportunities, housing eligibility, or immigration status are adversely affected.” 

Introduced one week after placing broader cannabis legalization on the state’s 2020 ballot initiative, the bill would make possession and delivery of 20 grams or less a noncriminal offense with no jail time necessary. It would also cover possession of up to 600 milligrams of THC. 

Despite the ongoing support for legal cannabis being at an all time high in the state, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has made it known that he won’t sign off on any legalization efforts as long as he’s in office. Furthermore, Jones has not heard from any other legislators in relation to his bill yet, but is hopeful the House Republicans will see it as a means to reform the criminal justice system, rather than to encourage cannabis use. Although, quite frankly, a little use encouragement might be just the thing the House needs.

If the bill passes, the maximum fine for possession of cannabis would drop 50% from $1,000 to $500, effective July 2020. Stay tuned for updates. 

Emerald contributor since June 2019

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