Florida edges closer to making cannabis legal

Florida’s seemingly unstoppable march towards full legalisation of marijuana has reached the point of no return, say experts.

After legalising cannabis-derived products like CBD oil and gummies earlier this year, the Sunshine State put itself firmly on track to table legislation that would eventually lead to the question of legalising recreational marijuana.

However, a couple of regulatory twists resulting from the legal status of CDB and the like may have expediated the process. Couple that with a series of polls which show up to seven out of 10 Florida residents would embrace legalisation and “you’ve got a winning formula”, says US political expert Cal Prenthurst.

“About a month ago we could see there was gathering momentum in favour of a move towards full legalisation of cannabis in Florida,” he told The Leaf Desk.

“But that momentum is now accelerating rapidly and policies are being drawn up that could make the legalisation process happen much faster than anticipated.”

One of the driving forces behind that momentum is a growing acceptance among lawmakers that attempting to prosecute people for possession of marijuana has become ‘virtually impossible’.

Phil Archer, Brevard-Seminole County State Attorney alluded to the issue in a memo to law enforcement agencies last month that revealed the ability to distinguish between legal products such as CBD and illegal marijuana had become increasingly difficult and expensive. Stop-and-search tests are, effectively, unable to prove anything.

‘Virtually impossible’

Conceding that legalising cannabis-derived products had, essentially, decriminalised marijuana, Mr Archer said in the memo: “Distinguishing between hemp and cannabis by mere sight or smell is virtually impossible.”

This, says Prenthurst, is the start of a domino effect that will ripple through the state’s political headquarters.

“Every possible factor – aside from some resistance from one or two stubborn republicans – now points to getting the legalisation wheels in motion,” he explained.

“As we’ve seen in other states where the legalisation of marijuana came about through everything falling into place at the right time, we’re now witnessing that phenomena here and now.

“It certainly feels like Florida has taken a huge step closer to the full legalisation of recreational cannabis.”

With the prevailing wind of change picking up, the political analyst now also believes legislation could be brought in as soon as 2020, rather than the widely-anticipated 2022 predicted by many weed watchers.

Several amendments to constitutional bills are being made which look, to all intents and purposes, like a state gearing up to fast-track legalisation.

One proposal recently tabled would allow citizens over the age of 21 to “possess, use, purchase, display and transport” up to two-and-a-half ounces of cannabis, as well as permit ownership of marijuana paraphernalia.

State-wide ban

Interestingly, another amendment covered the potential for a state-wide ban of cannabis use in designated areas.

Meanwhile, against the backdrop of momentum towards full legalisation, supporters believe ‘acceptance of the inevitable’ is now widespread among state politicians.

“Without actually holding a public vote it seems pretty obvious to all that the people have spoken,” concluded Cal Prenthurst.

“This whole issue now rests in the hands of the lawmakers but, in my opinion, I think even the staunchest of opponents to this realise it has gone past the point of no return.”