A bill to legalize cannabis for recreational use by adults was recently filed in Florida by Senator Dwight Bullard (D-Cutler Bay). Sen. Bullard introduced an identical bill during the last legislative session that did not receive a hearing.
Titled “An Act Relating to Recreational Marijuana,” SB 1176, would allow adults aged 21 years and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Under this proposal, it would be legal for adults to use, transport and give away up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to 6 seedlings. Home cultivation of up to 6 plants would also be legalized.
This legislation proposes to apply an excise tax, of $50 for every 1 ounce of cannabis, on growers, producers and retailers. The tax amount imposed on consumers was not specified, but the bill language does state that a tax will be included.
Sen. Bullard does not have high expectations for SB 1176 this year, but sees it as a necessary stepping stone.
His mother, Sen. Larcenia Bullard (D-Miami) called for the legalization of medical marijuana in 2011, but did not receive much support. Then in 2014, however, the state approved a very limited medical marijuana bill legalizing only the possession of a concentrated non-psychoactive cannabinoid oil, called cannabidiol (CBD), for patients suffering from epilepsy. Although this legislation does not in any way provide patients with safe access to the medicine they need, it does lay the groundwork for future opportunities.
Sen. Bullard explained how these small steps make him optimistic,
“At that time it was like, under no circumstances but look where we are now. Strange things can happen in a short period of time.”
Legalizing marijuana in the state of Florida could benefit the state in more ways than one. The influx in tax revenue generated to the state could easily reach the millions. Also, eliminating personal possession arrests would relieve threats to ruin the lives of non-violent offenders that otherwise would not be considered criminals. This would also allow law enforcement officers to have more time to focus efforts on more serious crimes.
Although Sen. Bullard admits that this bill may have no chance of being approved this year, it has at least placed the topic on the conversation table for lawmakers and voters, alike. Perhaps it may even influence opinions about the new medical marijuana bill that was filed in January.
photo credit: Facebook