With recreational marijuana already being legal in ten states, and New Jersey soon to pass legislation to increase that number to 11, Florida lawmakers are starting to discuss their options. Two bills were introduced into the legislator in February of 2019 that focus on legalizing recreational marijuana and taxing it to benefit the State.
“Both of these bills will do great things for the State of Florida,” says Douglas I. Leifert of The Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert. “Too many innocent people are currently in our prisons for something that is soon no longer going to be considered a crime. The views on marijuana are changing around the country, and it is time Florida legislators recognize that and do something about it.”
Miami Beach Representative Michael Grieco is certainly trying. He sponsored House Bill 1117, which would make marijuana legal for recreational use for anyone over the age of 21. Under this bill, those wishing to use recreational marijuana can only do so in their homes, or in another private space. Those found smoking or using recreational marijuana in public would be subject to a $100 fine. The law would allow individuals to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of the drug at one time.
The second bill, House Bill 1119, was sponsored by Orlando Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith. He proposed a tax that would apply to all recreational marijuana products. The tax would be $50 for every ounce of recreational marijuana, and the facility growing the marijuana would be responsible for paying that any time they sold, distributed, or transferred their product to a retail store. Those wishing to obtain a marijuana establishment license from the state would also be required to pay an application fee of $5,000 maximum.
The current ban on recreational marijuana is unlikely to be lifted during the current legislative session. However, lawmakers are indicating that the issue could be placed into the hands of the voters during the November 2020 general election. If the majority of voters approve the law, the state will soon need to debate other laws as well, such as expunging the records of those currently serving time for minor possession charges.