Taken together, 2021 could be a year of cannabis reform in the Sunshine State.
A proposal from state Senator Tina Polsky and state Representative Nicholas Duran, both Democrats representing South Florida, would close a loophole in the state’s medical cannabis law that still opens the door for public employees to get fired for using the treatment.
“So you’re allowed to use medical marijuana if you have a proper license but if you get drug tested at work having nothing to do with your performance you can be fired for using a legal substance,” Polsky said, as quoted by local news outlet WLRN.
According to WLRN, the bill “would prevent public employers from firing, demoting, or suspending someone who tests positive” if they can show a valid medical marijuana card after a positive result.
“In the event someone takes a drug test and they test positive for marijuana they should be able to sort of explain and show that they are registered,” said Duran, as quoted by WLRN. “That they are using medical marijuana and that’s the reason why their drug test came back positive for it”
Other Potential Changes
Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 that legalized medical cannabis, but recreational pot use remains against the law. Two other Sunshine State lawmakers have their own legislation to change that.
State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat, and state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican, have filed separate bills that would “establish a robust and free-market regulatory approach to the governance of cultivation, processing, and retail sales of both medical and adult-use marijuana,” according to local news outlet WESH.
As in other stands that have lifted prohibition on pot use, the bills would permit people aged 21 and older to purchase and use pot. WESH reported that Guillermo Smith and Brandes’ proposals “would allow adults to purchase 2.5 ounces of cannabis or a product with up to 2 grams of THC.”
“The need to end Florida’s prohibition of responsible adult use of cannabis is long overdue. This bill creates a sensible bipartisan framework for legalization that can earn the support needed to pass the Florida legislature. It doesn’t include everything I’d like to see, but it’s the fresh start Floridians deserve to finally move past the draconian cannabis prohibition era,” Guillermo Smith said, as quoted by WESH.
In a tweet on Friday, Guillermo Smith shared a graphic detailing the potential economic windfall from legalization, saying that the new marijuana law could help Florida “avoid unnecessary cuts to public schools and healthcare services.”
Legalization advocates in Florida had hoped to get a recreational proposal on the state’s ballot last year, but the group that spearheaded the campaign was unable to mount a successful petition drive.
Polls indicate that such a measure would have passed at the ballot. But a bill that emerges from the Florida legislature, which officially convenes in March, may not be as successful. That’s because the state’s governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, has previously said that legalization will not happen on his watch.