Multiple marijuana bills on tap in Florida Capitol

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – 2022 is not likely the year recreational marijuana will be legalized in Florida. Two constitutional amendments were found wanting by the state Supreme Court, and efforts in the Florida Legislature are a long shot, but that’s not stopping some from trying.

State Rep. Spencer Roach, R-Naples, tried to limit THC in medical marijuana last year.

“I think it’s accurate to describe that bill as prohibitionist in nature,” Roach said.

This year, Roach has teamed with state Rep. Andrew Learned, D-Tampa, who last year co-sponsored a legalization bill.

“I want to try to be the guy who’s effective and gets things done,” Learned said.

Now, the two would make medical marijuana more consumer friendly by testing it, requiring more training for recommending doctors and lengthening the time a patient’s card is valid. But when it comes to legalization?

“I am practical in the sense I know that bill isn’t going anywhere,” Learned said.

But that isn’t stopping House and Senate members from pushing recreational marijuana.

“Is arresting people for this largely victimless activity helping anybody?” said state Rep. Yvonne Hinson, D-Gainesville.

The 157-page bill would also expunge marijuana convictions and grant clemency to low-level offenders.

“Let’s also see this as a source of revenue to cover so many of the expenses we have in our state where every person benefits,” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.

“Legalizing marijuana is almost certain to be an issue in the governor’s race. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has told us twice he’s opposed to it, but all three Democrats running against him are for it.

We asked Hinson how she would deal with the governor’s opposition.

“I’m going to pray about that one,” Hinson said.

And the earliest voters could take the matter into their own hands is 2024, and if successful, it would likely take two to three more years before the first bud was sold.

Sponsors of the legislation told reporters more than 42,000 people were arrested on misdemeanor marijuana possession in 2018.

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