Will lawmakers decide the fate of marijuana in Florida? Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith certainly hopes so.

Florida’s first LGBT Latinx legislator filed a bill last week that seeks to bring cannabis out into the sunshine. 

“The need to end Florida’s prohibition of responsible adult use of cannabis is long overdue,” said Smith, in a press release dated Jan. 22.

Smith’s Availability of Marijuana for Adult Use bill would authorize people ages 21 and older to possess and deliver specified amounts of marijuana products. The Orlando Democrat is framing his argument as a liberty and free-market issue. 

“This bill creates a sensible bipartisan framework for legislation that can earn the support needed to pass the Florida legislature,” Smith said. “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.”

Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) filed a companion bill in the Senate. The bills would create license categories, ban use in public spaces, allow individuals to petition the courts for resentencing and expungement, allow contracting and wholesaling by growers, and preserve home-rule for counties and municipalities.

“We should give adult Floridians the freedom to make their own choices when it comes to cannabis,” said Brandes, in a press release.

The effort to legalize cannabis has the support of Nikki Fried, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services and U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz, a Republican from the state’s conservative panhandle region. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, however, has stated that legalizing recreational marijuana will not happen on his watch.

“Not while I’m governor,” DeSantis said during a 2019 interview, noting marijuana’s alleged detrimental effects on the maturity of young people.

The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 made the use and possession of cannabis in the United States for any purpose illegal under federal law. Currently 35 states, including Florida, have legalized medical use while 15 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use. 

Last November, a Gallup poll showed 68% of Americans support legalizing marijuana — an all-time high for the psychoactive drug that is derived from plants and goes by many names such as weed, pot, herb, grass, bud, ganja, Mary Jane, etc.

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