TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Four more states voted to legalize recreational marijuana for adults in November, and late Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.
Two legalization amendments could make the 2022 ballot in Florida, and a powerful state senator has filed a bill to keep control of marijuana in the legislature’s hands.
Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota all voted to legalize recreational marijuana this past November. That brings the total number of states to legalize marijuana to 15.
Nick Hansen is leading one of the referendums in Florida.
“There is an economic need for this. Folks understand that this is a tremendous economic driver in these states that have implemented it correctly and well. And it can really bolster those states coffers for things like education,” said Hansen.
Polls suggest two out of three voters support legalization.
“The trend is growing towards favorability,” said State Senator Jeff Brandes.
Brandes has filed a bill to short circuit the referendums. He would legalize marijuana in January 2022.
“The way you convince your colleagues is to sit down with them and say, guys, we can either deal with this at our level or the people of the state of Florida are going to deal with it via constitutional amendment,” said Brandes.
The legislation faces an uphill battle.
Only two legislatures, one in Vermont and the other in Illinois, have voted for legalization. Everywhere else has been done by referendum.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly said he opposes legalization.
“I think the simple truth is the Governor is going to have to deal with this. Whether it be today or 2022 when he’s gonna have four years to implement it,” said Brandes.
Both Sensible Florida and Make it Legal Florida are waiting on the Florida Supreme Court to decide if their initiatives meet the requirement to be on the ballot.
More legislation being announced Tuesday will seek to erase marijuana convictions in Florida.
14 counties already call for civil citations to be issued for small amounts of marijuana.