Recently, a Democratic representative introduced a bill that would completely legalize cannabis in the state of Florida. Medical cannabis use has been legal in Florida since 2016 but patients are still barred from smoking cannabis to treat their conditions. State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith introduced the bill to further Florida’s efforts at cannabis legalization. Though the bill will be supported by many Florida Democrats, the Republican-controlled state legislature and Republican Governor Ron DeSantis will likely prevent it from passing.
THE CURRENT STATE OF FLORIDA CANNABIS LEGALIZATION
As things stand, Florida is a legal medical cannabis state, but there are caveats. The state does not allow, “the possession, use or administration of medical marijuana by smoking,” making it difficult for many patients to find a comfortable form of cannabis to treat their conditions. Though he opposes full-scale legalization, Gov. DeSantis has “demanded that the Legislature pass a law by mid-March allowing for smokable marijuana for patients deemed to need it,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.
IS RECREATIONAL FLORIDA CANNABIS LEGALIZATION POSSIBLE?
According to Pew Research, 62% of Americans now support the legalization of cannabis in America. That number has doubled since the year 2000. In 2016, Florida voters passed the medical legalization bill, Amendment 2 with over 70% of the vote. The massive number of yes votes on Amendment 2 make it clear that voters are in favor of the legalization of cannabis in Florida and beyond. An added bonus of legalization efforts is the effect they have on the opioid epidemic. Studies show states with cannabis legalization have lower rates of opioid-caused overdose and death. The National Institutes of Health found that Florida has a higher rate of opioid deaths than the U.S. average.
It is yet to be determined whether or not voters will get the chance to vote on recreational legalization or if the Florida state legislature, through bills like the one recently proposed, will legalize recreational use on their own. Rep. Guillermo Smith called his bill a no brainer. “There’s no reason why the state cannot regulate cannabis in a similar way they regulate alcohol use,” he said.
It is still too soon to predict the future fate of recreational Florida cannabis legalization. However, the vast majority that voted in favor of Amendment 2 in 2016 is a positive sign of what may come. It is unlikely that the Florida state legislature will pass any sort of further legalization measure, so it will be up to Florida voters to determine the fate of cannabis in their state.