The Latest on Florida’s Marijuana Laws

Florida legalized medical cannabis in 2016 and is a state for cannabis advocates to keep an eye on for the near future.
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What are the marijuana laws in Florida?

We see states making progress in the fight for marijuana legalization every year. It takes a joint effort on the ground and in state legislation to change certain negative perceptions; but the longer time goes on, the more we see Americans approving the legalization of cannabis.

That’s been the case in Florida over the past year or so. In 2016, Florida passed Amendment 2 to their state Constitution with an approval vote of 71% to legalize medical marijuana use. They were the 26th state to do so, but marijuana advocates in the state are not done; there might be a vote on the horizon to fully legalize cannabis in the state.

Florida’s Marijuana History

A large amount of progress towards full legalization has happened in a fairly short time frame in Florida. Advocates for marijuana use got an amendment presented to the state in 2014, but the bill did not reach the 60% approval it needed to become law. Instead, the state introduced the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act; it allowed a low-THC strain of cannabis to be made available for qualifying patients. They expanded that coverage in early 2016 to include stronger forms of cannabis for terminally ill patients.

In June of 2016, full medical legalization and distribution was presented to the state in Amendment 2. This time, the state voted strongly in favor of the bill , allowing stronger strains of cannabis to become available and establishing dispensaries in the state. However, several cities in the state have barred medical marijuana dispensaries, claiming that federal laws hold more weight than the state’s legislation.

2017 in a Glance

There have been some issues with how past laws work to regulate medical marijuana under Amendment 2; in June this year, Florida’s legislators tried to correct the issue with Bill SB 8A. The bill added restrictions on who qualifies for medical marijuana as well as limiting where and how they may use it.

The bill is generally criticized by those in favor of legalized marijuana. And if you’re hoping to see Florida fully embrace legalized marijuana, this bill has increased frustrations and may lead to more motivated supporters.

The Path to Full Legalization

Florida is at an odd crossroads in their marijuana laws. Cannabis possession is still criminalized, but medical dispensaries are in place and very popular amongst the state’s voters.

One of the biggest advantages that Floridians have is their ability to propose ballot initiatives. For that reason, they can present items of legislation that they strongly support to their government. And by passing Amendment 2 with over 70% of the vote, it’s safe to say that support for marijuana legalization is strong within the state.

The USA Today predicts that Florida will be one of the next 15 states to fully legalize marijuana. And you might see that proposal on the ballot as soon as 2018. Advocates are already working hard to gain support for full legalization in the state and there are four proposed bills that will get coverage in the new year. The [Florida Cannabis Act](https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Cannabis_Act_(2018%29 "<span style=\"font-size:12pt;font-family:'Open Sans';color:#0000ff;background-color:transparent;font-weight:400;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:underline;-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none;text-decoration-skip-ink:none;vertical-align:baseline;white-space:pre-wrap;\">Florida Cannabis Act</span>"), for example, would allow for cannabis to be treated “like alcohol,” taxed and regulated, but free for general consumption.

Florida’s fight for cannabis freedom is far from over, but advocates are working hard to decriminalize marijuana possession and progress towards recreational legalization. It’s a state for cannabis advocates to keep an eye on for the near future.

Author Bio:Alex Briggs is a contributing writer for theMedical Marijuana Treatment Clinics of Florida.

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