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Carlos Guillermo Smith files House companion to Jeff Brandes’ adult-use cannabis bill

His filing suggests the issue might enjoy bipartisan support.

Just hours after Sen. Jeff Brandes filed an adult-use cannabis bill, a House Democrat filed his own, in a show of bipartisan support.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat, filed his bill (HB 1389) late Monday. It’s nearly identical to Brandes’ bill (SB 1860.) Brandes is a Republican.

Both bills would allow adults, regardless of medical status, to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis with up to 2 grams of THC. Both bills refer to the purchase and possession of the whole flower or other cannabis products that can be delivered through vaporizing or taken orally or topically.

Current licensed vertically-integrated medical marijuana stores would sell the product.

The two measures would allow people 21 and older to possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis and accessories, expanding the scope of medical marijuana treatment centers to recreational sales. Public use of the herb would not be permitted and would carry up to a $100 fine.

In addition to legalizing cannabis for adult use, the bills would allow users to legally carry one or more delivery devices as long as they were purchased from a licensed medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC).

The bills provide language protecting private property owners’ rights to restrict smoking or vaping on their properties, however it would block landlords from preventing tenants from possessing cannabis or using it through means other than vaping or smoking.

Under the both measures, adults legally purchasing cannabis could transfer the product to other people of legal age.

Both retail stores and delivery personnel would have to verify a person’s age by either visually observing they are clearly older than 21 or by checking qualifying identification if their age is uncertain. Qualifying identification includes a Florida or other state ID or driver’s license, a military ID or passport.

The bills would not exempt a consumer from prosecution related to impairment or intoxication resulting from the use of cannabis or exempt a person from submitting to a breath, blood, urine or other test to detect the presence of a controlled substance.

The measures would also require a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services study on the potential harms and benefits of allowing cultivation for private use, also known as home grow, but it would not immediately allow for users to grow their own product.

The bills also includes penalties for failing to abide by the proposed law including making possession under the age of 21 a second degree misdemeanor on a first offense and a first degree misdemeanor on second and subsequent offenses.

Retailers who fail to adequately check the age of purchasers would be subject to up to $10,000 in fines.

The measures would not exempt recreational cannabis consumers for taxes, as is the case for medical use.

The pair of bills come the same day the group Make It Legal Florida announced it would no longer seek a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot providing similar terms for adult-use cannabis. That group, after failing to gather the required number of signatures to make the 2020 ballot, is now moving forward with plans to place it on the 2022 ballot.

“We’ve now become the only game in town. If people want legal, responsible adult use in Florida, it’s going to have to be through our bill because the ballot initiative is already unfortunately over,” Guillermo Smith said.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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