Florida lawmakers file bill to legalize recreational marijuana

A Central Florida lawmaker has introduced legislation aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana in Florida.

Orlando Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Pinellas County Sen. Jeff Brandes this week introduced HB 343 and SB 710 which would legalize recreational marijuana in Florida.

The bills would “establish a robust and free-market regulatory approach to the governance of cultivation, processing, and retail sales of both medical and adult-use marijuana.”

The legislation would allow people 21 and older to purchase and use limited amounts of marijuana without a medical marijuana card. Both lawmakers have introduced similar legislation in the past. The bill would allow adults to purchase 2.5 ounces of cannabis or a product with up to 2 grams of THC. Smoking marijuana in public would remain illegal.

“The need to end Florida’s prohibition of responsible adult use of cannabis is long overdue. This bill creates a sensible bipartisan framework for legalization that can earn the support needed to pass the Florida legislature. It doesn’t include everything I’d like to see, but it’s the fresh start Floridians deserve to finally move past the draconian cannabis prohibition era,” Guillermo Smith said.

Recreational sales nationally are predicted to top $32 billion by 2024. That number is double what big pharmaceutical companies are making on pain medications. Industry leaders predict an economic boom.”Once we have this passed, there will be jobs available. Training will be needed. It is a no brainer for me. I mean we have job creation. We have taxable revenue, so legalizing is the way to go,” cannabis industry consultant Amit Raninga said.