Florida is well into its legislative session, and so far, there has not been any movement on legalizing cannabis. However, legislators have not given up hope.
A group of supporters feels there is still time in this session to move forward, including movement on a measure that would allow adult recreational use. Another proposed measure would cap the potency of medical cannabis, a move that advocates are skeptical about.
“So many of my farmers are itching to get involved in this,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “We have had some traumatic blows to the agriculture industry, first from international trade agreements that have really hurt our famers, to weather conditions, to citrus greening. And giving our famers an alternative crop that can be profitable not only is great for our economy, but it keeps a lot of this land that is really better for conservation here in agriculture and not in development.”
Fried and other supporters believe that legalizing cannabis would create a new revenue source that could help bolster the state budget, especially since legalizing cannabis has bipartisan support. Both Senator Jeff Brandes, a Republican, and Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat, are sponsoring the measure in their respective chambers.
“We’ve looked around the country,” said Brandes. “We’ve tried to take the best practices of those other states. We’ve worked with some of the national groups that work on marijuana policy or other states and tried to come up with a piece of legislation that is reasonable and rational and tried to think through some of the challenges that going into this green field of policy creates.”
Still, despite this optimism, the half-way point of the session has passed, and so far, the bill has not been heard in committees in either the state House or Senate. It remains to be seen whether this bill will gain enough traction, but there is still time for a final-hour miracle to happen.