TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Jan. 3, 2022) – Several bills introduced in the Florida legislature would legalize marijuana despite ongoing federal cannabis prohibition.
Rep. Omphroy (D) introduced House Bill 549, (HB549) and House Bill 551 (HB551), Rep. Hinson (D) introduced House Bill 467 (HB467), and Sen. Brandes (R) introduced Senate Bill 776 (SB776). Provisions in the bills differ, but the passage of any would legalize the sale and possession of marijuana for adults over 21. Other provisions would include the establishment of taxation and licensing fees, rules made for cultivation, and regulation of growers. Sentencing review would also be authorized for certain individuals, with potential expungement of their criminal records.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION
The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Florida legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and expanded the program in 2019. The legalization of marijuana for personal use in Florida would take the next step and remove another layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in the state even though federal prohibition would remain in effect. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. When states stop enforcing marijuana laws, they sweep away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Florida joins a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition and nullifying it in practice.
Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019. New Jersey, Montana and Arizona all legalized recreational marijuana through ballot measures in the 2020 election. Earlier this year, New York, New Mexico, Virginia and Connecticut legalized marijuana through legislative action.
With 36 states including allowing cannabis for medical use, and 18 legalizing for adult recreational use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore. The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats.
All four bills have been referred to various committees. They need to receive hearings, and pass out with a majority vote in order to continue on in the legislative process.
- Another Michigan City Decriminalizes Psilocybin Despite Federal Prohibition - April 5, 2022
- South Carolina Bill Would Expand “Right to Try” to Include All Treatments for Contagious Diseases and Allow Medical Marijuana - April 4, 2022
- Bill Introduced in the Rhode Island House Would Create State Process to End Police Qualified Immunity - April 4, 2022