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Initiative Begins to Put Marijuana Legalization on 2016 Ballot in Florida

Under current Florida law, marijuana is considered a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that marijuana has a “high potential” for abuse and has no currently accepted medical use, according to Fl. Stat. Ann. § 893.03. If you are found to be in possession of marijuana for personal use, or are actively participating in the manufacture, sale, or distribution of marijuana, you will be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount found to be in your possession.

Activists in Florida have launched a voter initiative called “Regulate Florida,” which would amend the Florida constitution to legalize and regulate adult use of marijuana, according to the Herald Tribune. The Regulate Florida initiative would allow voters to decide, on the November 2016 ballot, whether to legalize marijuana for medicinal use and/or to simply legalize marijuana for general use by adults. The Florida legislature would be in charge of taxation if either proposal were to receive a majority vote.

The state legislature failed to even consider a comprehensive medical marijuana proposal during the spring 2015 legislative session. For supporters of marijuana legalization, that leaves a constitutional amendment as the only viable alternative, whether for adult use or medical use.

Regulate Florida would feature detailed information about licenses for growing, processing, distribution and retail sales of cannabis and would make possession legal, according to the Herald Tribune article.

“Part of our plan is to protect children by limiting the availability of illegal marijuana,” said Karen Goldstein, who heads the Florida chapter of NORML, a national marijuana reform group formed in 1970.

Passing this initiative will not be easy. Instead of the 50 percent required for an ballot initiative to pass in most states, Florida sets the bar higher at 60 percent, according to the Herald Tribune article.

Nevertheless, Florida appears to be slowly, but steadily, reducing the penalties associated with marijuana possession. For example, people caught with small amounts of marijuana can now receive civil citations instead of jail time in Miami-Dade County, one of the largest counties in the state.

The Miami-Dade County Commission approved a proposal to let police issue $100 civil citations for possessing up to 20 grams of marijuana, according to Fox News. County Commissioner Sally Heyman said the measure is meant to spare people a criminal record and would reduce the economic burden on the criminal justice system. Though, the decision to arrest will still be up to the officer’s discretion, according to the Fox News article.

Contact an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Despite the potential change to Florida laws regarding marijuana possession, if you or a loved one is arrested for possessing marijuana today, you will be facing serious criminal charges that could adversely affect your life for years to come. If you are convicted, that conviction stays on your record for years potentially depriving you of the possibility of applying for certain types of employment, qualifying for loans and other services. This is why, if you or a loved one is facing a marijuana possession charge, contacting an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer makes sense. You need an experienced advocate to fight for your rights. Contact the Skier Law Firm, P.A. today and tell us what happened.

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