Florida legislation aims to legalize cannabis for adults, review pot-related convictions

Corresponding bills introduced in Florida House and Senate

Could Florida be the next state to legalize marijuana in 2022?

ORLANDO, Fla. – State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, of Orlando, introduced a bill in the Florida House this week that would make marijuana available for use by adults over 21 without needing a medical marijuana card, as part of a round of legislation that would also review certain marijuana-crime convictions.

The Availability of Marijuana for Adult Use legislation, House Bill 343, would establish a “robust and free-market regulatory approach” to medical and adult-use of marijuana in Florida, according to Smith’s office.

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An identical, corresponding bill in the Senate by Republican state Sen. Jeff Brandes, of St. Petersburg, was also introduced.

If approved the bill would revise licensing and functions of medical marijuana facilities in Florida authorizing anyone over 21 to possess and/or deliver cannabis in specific amounts.

There are a number of related bills in both the House and Senate taking aim at how Florida handles pot-related crimes.

Under House Bill 189 and Senate Bill 712, individuals with certain marijuana-related crimes would be able to petition the court to expunge their criminal history. The bill also calls on a sentence review for people sentenced to certain marijuana-related crimes.

“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,” Smith said in a statement. “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.”

In 2016, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana. Other efforts to legalize recreational use have stalled or fallen short of the necessary votes.

About the Author:

Emilee is a digital journalist for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com, where she writes about space and Central Florida news. Previously, Emilee was a space writer and web editor for the Orlando Sentinel and a producer at the Naples Daily News.