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Congress Takes Steps to Decriminalize Marijuana at Federal Level: What is the Status in Florida?


We’ve previously discussed efforts in Florida to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. While this could someday completely alter state prosecution of marijuana-related crimes, without decriminalization also occurring at the federal level, there is always the threat of federal prosecution for marijuana-related crimes.

However, in mid-November, reports announced that a federal congressional committee plans to hold a vote on a bill to end the federal prohibition (and criminalization) of marijuana. The legislation – known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act – would not only remove cannabis from being covered under the Controlled Substances Act, but what attempt to implement some criminal justice reform to address the damage done by the war on drugs. Specifically, the bill calls for a five percent tax on cannabis sales, which is slated to go towards providing legal assistance and job training for those unjustly targeted by law enforcement, as well as loans for cannabis-related businesses owned by disadvantaged individuals. In addition, the law would prevent federal agencies from using marijuana or cannabis use as a factor in denying, granting, or rescinding security clearances.

News of the legislation’s introduction in committee comes two months after the House passed a bill to increase access that marijuana business owners have to banks. Legislators will next have an opportunity to file amendments during markup.

Enough Signatures Gathered in Florida

Meanwhile, the legalization movement here in Florida continues to gain momentum as an advocacy group Make It Legal Florida announced that it has gathered enough signatures on its petition to put marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2020, warranting a Florida Supreme Court review.  This is the second legislation ballot initiative to surpass the required 76,200 signatures for Court review, and 766,200 signatures for a legalization amendment to appear on the ballot.

This particular measure would allow anyone aged 21 or older to possess and use marijuana, However, it would not allow residents to grow their own supply. If it passes Florida Supreme Court review, it would need 60 percent voter approval to pass. With three different petitions currently working to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, it is expected that the issue will be on the ballot in 2020.

If You Are Potentially Facing Federal Drugs Charges, Contact Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys

While medical marijuana is legal in Florida, most of Florida’s school districts and a number of other facilities have been hesitant to implement official policies because the federal government still classifies the substance as a Schedule I controlled substance. As long as marijuana remains listed under the Controlled Substances Act, you could face serious federal drug charges. Contact our experienced Orlando drug crimes attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today if you or a loved one is facing charges to find out how we can help.



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