Reefer Madness on Capitol Hill in Florida

From limiting THC content to allowing people to grow it themselves, Florida lawmakers have introduced 28 bills focused on marijuana regulation in 2021. 

Some, like House Bill (HB) 1455, want to limit the amount of THC (the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant) that medical marijuana products sold in Florida can contain, as well as tax and enhance age restrictions on cannabis medicine. 

On the other hand, legislation such as HB1361 would legalize marijuana and allow adults to grow up to six cannabis plants in their home (even in their yard). 

Those are the two extremes, but there are a slew of other bills dealing with how the current market is regulated, including one that would open up more small business opportunities and create a wholesale medical marijuana market, similar to how other states have done. 

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Other bills would remove some criminal penalties, allow resentencing for some marijuana-related offenses and allow for the suppression of records of some marijuana crimes so the offenses do not overly affect an offender’s lodging or employment opportunities later in life. HB335 would offer job protections for public employees that are medical marijuana patients. 

Looks like the Florida state legislature will be talking a lot about marijuana these next two months. Or will they? 

Many of the bills mentioned have been assigned to multiple congressional committees. That means that in order for the bill to make it to the floor to even be heard and voted on it first has to win not just one, but a series of smaller votes. The more committees a bill is assigned, the less likely it will make it to the floor, and ultimately pass. 

It’s what’s they call “kill it in committee” and rest assured its politics as usual. This is why so many advocate for a constitutional vote to legalize cannabis, much the same way medical cannabis was legalized in Florida in 2016. 

But is it the only way? Is there another way the will of the people can be realized, without a vote? Stranger things have happened. 

Each of these congressional committees is made up of elected officials. It is one of their job requirements to meet with their constituents who come to their office. Outside of massive campaign contributions, these visits hold the most power to influence a member of congress. The trick is, you MUST live in the county of the member you plan to meet. They are, after all, concerned with re-election and only constituents count. 

If your representative is unavailable to meet, you may try setting up a zoom call. It might be a long shot, but you’d be surprised how much politicians care about reelection. You may just get it.

Giving them a call the old fashioned way on the telephone is another great alternative. 

But what do I say?” Great question! 

The best thing to do is express your support or non-support of specific legislation – name a specific bill and keep it simple. “I support this and I do not support that. Here’s why.” Stick to two bills. Here’s a cheat sheet:

JUST SAY NO to HB1445: Caps THC and adds Taxes 
JUST SAY YES to HB1361: Legalize Marijuana for Adults including homegrow / home cultivation of up to six plants 

The rest of the bills can be found here.

Legislative session (the time when state lawmakers get together in Tallahassee to make laws) begins March 2 and lasts through April 30. 
You can click the following link to find your representative. 

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