Will Florida Finally Decriminalize Recreational Marijuana?
Now that medical marijuana dispensaries are becoming almost commonplace in Florida, a number of people have turned their sights towards constitutional amendments to decriminalize recreational marijuana on the 2020 ballot. Like national trends, the majority of Florida voters have indicated that they would support a ballot measure legalizing (decriminalizing) recreational marijuana.
In order to get it on the ballot, approximately 76,000 signatures are needed to make it onto the petition, which then gets submitted to the Florida Supreme Court. If it is approved by the Florida Supreme Court, then approximately 766,000 signatures are needed to get it onto the ballot. Supporters of the measure estimate that this will cost around $5 million to do this, which represents a major hurdle.
Cities Moving Forward with or Without the State
Meanwhile, cities like South Miami have taken a strong stance in favor of altogether decriminalizing marijuana; ahead of efforts to get the signatures needed to get the ballot measure moving. In May, the city commission passed a resolution supporting legalization for adults over the age of 21. In fact, the Vice Mayor of the city made a public statement that cities “enforce marijuana arrests only when they want to get someone in a lot of trouble.” At the same time, other cities, such as Boca Raton and Coral Springs, have moved to banned medical marijuana dispensaries in their vicinities.
If eventually decriminalized, it would allow adults 21 years and older to cultivate, possess and purchase cannabis, and create a regulatory system similar to alcohol. However, states like Florida may be hesitant, given that the Department of Justice has indicated that it intends to rescind any policies to protect legal marijuana states from federal interference.
Until every use of marijuana in Florida is decriminalized, the following criminal penalties apply:
- 20 grams or less: misdemeanor; incarceration for one year and $1,000 fine
- More than 20 grams to 25 pounds: felony; incarceration for five years and $5,000 fine
- More than 25 pounds to less than 2000 pounds: felony; incarceration for three to 15 years and $25,000 fine
- 2000 to less than 10,000 pounds: felony; incarceration for seven to 30 years and $50,000 fine
- 10,000 pounds or more: felony; incarceration for 15 to 30 years and $200,000 fine
Contact Our Florida Drug Crime Defense Attorneys
Until Florida makes headway with a ballot measure, the possession of marijuana without a valid medical prescription is considered a serious crime because marijuana is a Schedule I drug, and the penalties are harsh—as they are with other, more serious drugs. If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug crime, contact our Miami and Orlando drug crime attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.