Bill in Florida Senate would legalize marijuana

Cannabis. Photo courtesy rfi.com

Florida state Senator Gary M. Farmer Jr.introduced Senate Bill 664 in late January, proposing that marijuana become legal in Florida for adults over the age of 21. Currently, only medicinal marijuana — which requires a prescription — is legal in the Sunshine State. If SB 664 is approved, adults will be able to go into a dispensary and purchase cannabis at their leisure without a prescription.

This would also call for the renaming of the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to the Division of Alcoholic Beverages, Marijuana, and Tobacco.

Local college students are looking forward to this change.

“I feel like this should’ve been a thing. It’s unfair that people are making a legal, profitable living off of marijuana in the stock industry or selling it because they have a license while others are in jail for doing the same things,” said a business student at FAMU who asked that his name not be used.

An engineering student at FAMU said, “Weed is far less dangerous than alcohol.” He agrees that making it legal for adults would not be a bad idea.

Legalizing marijuana in Florida also would bring revenue into the state. Since legalizing cannabis, California has raised $1 billion in cannabis tax revenue since the industry kicked into gear in January 2018, according to figures recently released by the state.

“I think with Florida already being a huge tourist destination, this is a great business move. People will turn Florida into a new ‘East Coast California,’” the SBI student added.

But students are wary about a few things that this bill may bring. Most believe that this decision is primarily coming from a standpoint of tax revenue and the business that this bill will bring, if passed.

The SBI student added that, “It’s not about people having rights. This is about profits that can impact rights. I think that if they use this incentive to raise money for the state while also releasing non-violent offenders who were caught with marijuana, everyone can win.”

Another student who asked that his name stay anonymous said, “How will this really play out? If caught with more than 2.5 ounces, is it now the intent to sell? Are you going to prison?”

According to SB 664, “A person who is 21 years of age or older may: Transfer or furnish, without remuneration, up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to 6 seedlings to a person who is 21 years of age or older.”

This means that without specific intent to sell, it would not be criminal.

Under this bill, introduced by a Democrat in an overwhelmingly Republican Senate, you will now be allowed to have or buy 2.5 ounces of marijuana from a legal dispensary or you can grow up to six plants or seedlings yourself.

Some students at FAMU agree that this may change the climate of the college town, if the bill goes through.

“This will be a huge deal because most college students partake themselves. This will make students feel a lot more comfortable to use marijuana, knowing that they are not risking the reputation of their future,” the SBI student said.

He added that this could also be an incentive to bring in more recruitment to certain colleges and universities in Florida because students will want to come to a place where it’s legal smoke pot.

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