Proposed act aims to regulate marijuana and decriminalize modest use

A proposed act aims to make it legal to use recreational marijuana in Florida and regulate the drug like alcohol.

Many states across the country have passed laws allowing the medicinal use of marijuana or legalizing and regulating recreational use. However, marijuana proponents in Florida believe that the state is among the strictest in terms of penalizing marijuana use. Florida residents who are caught with any amount of marijuana may face serious cannabis charges, even for a first-time offense.

Is regulating marijuana a more sensible answer?

According to the Broward Palm Beach New Times, marijuana supporters are trying to gather support for a proposed Florida Constitution amendment called the Cannabis Act, which would regulate marijuana in the same way as alcohol. Florida residents age 21 and older would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis for recreational purposes, as well as apply for a license to grow up to six marijuana plants.

Those in support of the act say that regulating marijuana could make it safer for people to use. They cite statistics of decreased marijuana usage among teenagers in Colorado since it was legalized there, as well as reduced crime rates.

Penalties for marijuana use in Florida

Marijuana use, even for medicinal purposes, is currently treated as a criminal offense in Florida. According to the marijuana rights group NORML, Florida has some of the harshest punishments in the country for marijuana use. These include the following:

• Misdemeanor charges for possession of less than 20 grams, including a $1,000 fine and prison time of up to one year

• Felony charges for growing one cannabis plant or possessing more than 20 grams of marijuana, with a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of $5,000

• Significantly higher punishments for subsequent offenses or possessing larger amounts of marijuana

Despite the current laws, some counties and cities throughout Florida are considering measures to decriminalize the possession and use of small amounts of pot, treating it as a civil offense instead.

There may be numerous benefits to decriminalizing marijuana, as shown by the laws in other states. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences have revealed little evidence that legalizing marijuana leads to people abusing more serious illegal drugs, or using greater amounts of marijuana. Decriminalization also allows police officers to concentrate their efforts on more serious crimes, as well as directing taxpayer money away from marijuana punishment to other areas where it is needed more.

You have the right to have your side of the story heard in court if you are facing drug charges. You will need to speak with an experienced Daytona Beach defense attorney after an arrest.