Florida is a big, well-known state with a lot going for it. It’s the third most populated state in the country, and one of the fastest-growing states too. And with some of the best year-round weather in the nation, it’s easy to see why. As far as legal weed goes in Florida, currently it’s only available to those with a medical prescription. There has been a lot of momentum lately to legalize for adult recreational use however. Although residents won’t get a chance to vote on the matter come November 2020, they will have their chance soon enough.
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Medical Marijuana In Florida
Florida’s medical marijuana laws were signed in 2016. Since then the number of patients has been ever-increasing, with 337,500 registered patients as of May 2020. Currently, Florida has the second-largest amount of medical marijuana patients in the country. California of course takes the cake, with almost 2 million. To cater to all those people, there are 243 dispensaries across the state. And yep, that even includes the panhandle. Florida doesn’t have any vague-sounding qualifying conditions however, so to receive a medical marijuana card, you do actually need to be sick. The current list is:
- ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
- Chronic nonmalignant pain (caused/originates from a qualifying condition)
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Terminal illness
- Other comparable illnesses to the above
A Push For Legalization
A few states including New Jersey and South Dakota will be seeing recreational legalization on the ballot come November 2020. Florida had a similar style petition in place, however, it failed to receive the required signatures to qualify.
766,200 signatures were needed by the 1st of February. While over 700,000 signatures were claimed to have been gathered, only 295,000 were verified before the deadline. Unfortunately a deadline extension was not granted, however, Make it Legal Florida, the group spearheading the campaign has vowed to get it onto the 2022 ballot.
Although legalization efforts likely won’t come to fruition until 2022 at the earliest, a number of counties and cities have partially decriminalized amounts up to 20 grams.
|County or City||Notable Cities||Fine||Population|
|Alachua County||Gainesville||Cite and release||269,000|
|Broward County||Fort Lauderdale||Cite and release||1,950,000|
|Cocoa Beach||–||Civil citation||11,500|
|Osceola County||Kissimmee||Cite and release||375,000|
|Palm Beach County||West Palm Beach||Cite and release||1,500,000|
|Volusia County||Daytona Beach||$100||560,000|
|West Palm Beach||–||$100||112,000|
Some of those cities and counties still allow police officers to choose whether to not fine you at all, or fine you a reduced amount. What’s more, you could still end up with a criminal record in some cases. So, partial decriminalization is the keyword here.
Recreational Weed Laws Florida
If you don’t live in one of the above counties or cities with partially decriminalized weed, then the penalties are far more severe. Unlike the above places which carry a maximum of $155 fine for amounts up to 20 grams, for the rest of the state, the potential fine can increase to $1,000, and you could also be looking at a year in prison.
So if you live in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, or anywhere in the panhandle or most of the rest of the state, jail time for cannabis possession is still a very real possibility. Some other parts of the state are currently looking into decriminalization too, which could come into effect before state-wide legalization occurs (if it happens).
Florida Wants Legal Weed
From public polls, the majority of Florida residents want legal recreational weed. A University of North Florida poll from October 2019 found that 64% of those surveyed support legalizing small amounts of weed for recreational use.
Breaking the figures down further, we see standard support trends mirrored across the country. These being higher support amongst Democrat’s, males, and younger generations.
Despite the obvious setback of missing out on qualifying for the 2020 ballot, Florida is in a reasonable position to see legal weed in the state soon.