Will the Florida Legislature Decriminalize Marijuana in 2020?

Legislation has been pre-filed in Florida to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. 

Florida's 2020 House Bill 25 / Senate Bill 242 would reduce the penalty for the possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana from a first-degree misdemeanor (punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail) to a noncriminal violation (punishable by a fine only).

Specifically, Florida 2020 House Bill 25 and Senate Bill 242 would amend Section 893.13 to:
  • reduce the possession of small amounts of marijuana, less than 20 grams, from a first degree misdemeanor to a "noncriminal violation"; 
  • reduce the possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis or more than 600 milligrams of THC in cannabis products from a third-degree felony to a first-degree misdemeanor; 
  • allow juveniles found in possession of 20 grams of cannabis or more than 600 milligrams of THC in cannabis products, for a first offense, to be eligible for a civil citation or prearrest diversion program as provided in Section 985.12. 
If passed, the decriminalization of less than 20 grams of marijuana or 600 milligrams of THC in cannabis products would take effect on July 1, 2020.

The legislation would anyone in possession of a small amount of marijuana from being saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.

Additionally, the so-called "Adult Use Marijuana Legislation" was filed in SB 1860. The bill creates more regulation to govern the cultivation, processing, and retail sales of both medical and adult-use of marijuana in Florida for those over 21 years of age.

Florida's 2020 SB 1860 would: 
  • create multiple license categories, including growing, processing, and retailing, and establishes a new transportation license; 
  • allow contracting and wholesaling by growers to processors or retailers;
  • permit adults over 21 access to an MMTC without a medical marijuana card;
  • allow eligible individuals to petition the court for resentencing or expungement;
  • prohibit marijuana from being utilized in public spaces
  • maintain home-rule by allowing counties and municipalities to prohibit or limit the number of MMTCs within their jurisdiction.
Both pieces of legislation recognize that more harm is caused by the prohibition of marijuana than by marijuana itself. The legislation also allows law enforcement officers to focus their time and resources on more important issues that keep us safe.

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