There has been a lot talk about when Florida will legalize the leaf for recreational use. The voters passed a so-called comprehensive medical marijuana program back in 2016. But the state government has been resistant to this reform. So much so that it has almost been easier for patients to continue frequenting the black market. Some people believe this is all the more reason to simply repeal the state’s prohibitionary standard. They want to allow its citizens to purchase legal weed for whatever condition necessary…be it cancer or simply just a bad day at the office. So when will Florida legalize recreational marijuana?
Legal weed is not likely to happen. Not for a while. There’s a campaign pushing to put the question of a fully legal recreational cannabis market on the ballot in the November election. But organizers of the group say they will not even come close to collecting the signatures needed to enter the next phase. The group calls itself Regulate Florida. And they require 766,000 petitions to earn a spot on the ballot in 2018.
Sadly, this means it could be a couple more years before this issue has a fighting chance.
“We’re going to continue on,” said Michael Minardi, a Tampa attorney who oversees Regulate Florida. “We’re excited about 2020. Because we know that the people are on our side.”
But just how far off was the group from making it on the ballot this year?
A report from USA Today indicates that Regulate Florida only managed to collect somewhere around 40,000 signatures. But the group is working to secure an additional 36,000 before the beginning of February in order to have the Supreme Court review the language of its proposal. This is a crucial step in Florida when pushing a constitutional amendment. And could determine the answer to the question ‘when will Florida legalize recreational marijuana?’.
Floridians for Freedom
The initiative backed by Regulate Florida is similar to other marijuana legalization campaigns that have proved successful in the United States. It would give Floridians 21 and over the freedom to cultivate, possess, and purchase marijuana from retail dispensaries. Essentially, the measure would create a taxed and regulated system comparable to the alcohol trade. It would give people the freedom to purchase cannabis products like they do with beer.
Another group, Floridians for Freedom, is also fighting make weed fully legal statewide. But there is a key distinction that separates them from the folks at Regulate Florida. This group seeks to make pot possession and cultivation a “basic right for adults under Article 1 of the Florida Constitution.”
“In our opinion, it creates a stronger sense of protection for the citizens of the state by establishing it within Article 1, where our basic rights are derived,” said Colby Wise with Floridians for Freedom. “We believe that, by doing it that way, it might actually stand up to resistance from federal authorities.”
Speaking of federal authorities.
Much of 2017 was spent wondering if or when U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions was going to launch a vicious crackdown on the legal cannabis industry. But 2018 has gotten off to a less elusive start. The Department of Justice recently announced that it was going to rescind an Obama-era memo (Cole) that has protected legal marijuana states from federal interference. It is a move that could make it less inspiring for states, like Florida, to move forward with legalization as freely as nine other jurisdictions.
Final Hit: When Will Florida Legalize Recreational Marijuana?
But despite Uncle Sam’s latest clash with cannabis, Floridians want it legal. 71 percent of the voting public approved the initiative legalizing medical marijuana back in 2016. Some of the latest polls have suggested that 56 percent of the voters would support an initiative to bring a full-scale cannabis industry to life. But the state needs more cooperation from Floridians in order for this reform to pass. Constitutional amendments require 60 percent of the vote to become law.
So when will Florida legalize recreational marijuana? As far as predictions go, cannabis advocates believe 2020 could be a long shot for legalization in Florida. Ben Pollara, one of the key figures responsible for the campaign to legalize marijuana for medicinal use, told USA Today that it will likely be “10 years” before adults in Florida are able to purchase cannabis products the same way they do now with alcohol.