The fight for recreational marijuana in Florida has been happening for years. Many people oppose making it legal for fear of creating more chaos within the state. But there are two men who are currently pushing to put a bill in place that would legalize and tax marijuana to better the sunshine state.
Miami Beach Representative Michael Grieco (D) and Orlando Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith (D) are sponsoring House Bill 1117. The Bill is a 58-page outline and a plea to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida. That along with House Bill 1119 which is an outline to impose a tax on marijuana as well.
House Bill 1117 would allow for anyone 21 or older to purchase marijuana and use it in private places such as their homes. The bill states that no one can possess more than 2.5 ounces at one time. If someone were to go against these laws, they would face a $100 fine from the state.
House Bill 1119 would allow for a tax of $50 per ounce which would be paid by the growers when the sale of marijuana occurs from “a marijuana cultivation facility to a retail marijuana store or marijuana product manufacturing facility.” Anyone looking to obtain a marijuana establishment license would pay an application fee that would cost no more than $5,000.
Guillermo-Smith spoke to Fox News about the new bill stating that it makes perfect sense to legalize marijuana and treat it similar to alcohol. "It's just kind of a no-brainer, you know? There's no reason why the state cannot regulate cannabis in a similar way they regulate alcohol use”, he said.
Smith also feels like regulating marijuana and imposing a tax will allow Florida to gain more revenue for things that are desperately needed, such as affordable housing and education. He said, “It really is an opportunity for our state to bring in revenue, for things like education, affordable housing, for infrastructure.”
Merri Newman, who works at Chillum CBD Dispensary in Ybor City, believes that it is better to tax on something that is already being used regardless of its legality. Newman explained, “People are going to be doing it anyway. They have for decades, centuries, and they will continue to.”
This statement speaks volumes. Thousands of people use illegal recreational marijuana across the state every day. Instead of costing the state thousands, if not millions for persecuting marijuana possession and use, why not capitalize off of it and make the state better than ever before with the tax revenue?
While there are many people who feel the same way, others like Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd feel that we are ignoring reality if we think weed is not a gateway drug. She said, “It is ruining families, and killing people every day across the United States. We stand here in denial thinking it is not a gateway drug."
While she is adamant about this statement, the truth is that marijuana’s legality is what is doing those things. People being arrested for possession is ruining families, illegal drug trading is killing people, not the drug itself. Colorado has seen less DUI’s, a 25 percent reduction in opioid overdoses, and $927,009,550 in tax revenue since 2014.
I cannot understand how someone could look at those facts and think that legalization of marijuana could possibly hinder our state. While 49 percent of voters stated that marijuana should be legal, Governor Ron Desantis said he is against recreational use.
In a statement in January, the Governor said he is fighting for medical marijuana patients to use smokable marijuana and to have it more accessible to them. He said,
The State needs to increase the number of licensed medical marijuana growers to create a more open market, greater competition, more affordable prices, and a greater level of access to medicine for Florida’s patients. My number one priority on this is Florida’s patients – we have an obligation to act in their best interest and expand access to medical marijuana, so that sick and suffering Floridians can get the medicine they need. I will continue to be their champion and push to implement the true will of the voters.
But he said he is still very against recreational marijuana use, so it is hard to say just how far the House Bill’s will get. But there are also petitions to get recreational marijuana on the 2020 ballot if these Bill’s do not get pushed through, there is always hope. This is a great step in the right direction for Florida and hopefully, soon there will be even more great news on this exciting venture in the near future.
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