A Democratic Senator from Kissimmee has filed a bill that could legalize recreational marijuana.
Sen. Victor Torres‘ SB 1576 would make adult use cannabis legal for those at least 21 years of age, establishing a so-called “Division of Cannabis Management” in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to regulate the herb, including in concentrated and other derivative forms.
Possession limits would be capped at 2.5 ounces per user and six marijuana plants, meaning that home cultivation would be allowed in the unlikely event this bill becomes law. Usage would be allowed in a “non-public place,” and violators would be subject to a $100 fine. Minors attempting to buy cannabis would be subject to a series of progressive fines, with the third offense being a $600 hit.
The bill also contemplates consumption establishments, where smoking but not vaping would be allowed, as would the “ingestion” of marijuana via “prepared food.” That food could be taken off premises provided the packaging denotes that it contains THC. These establishments would have to be at least 500 feet away from the doors of a public school, and would be banned from selling product between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.
Localities could opt out via ordinances passed by Sept. 2024.
Torres’ bill also contains equity provisions, including stipulating that a minority business enterprise would be given preference in a competitive application process.
If passed, this bill would go into effect in July. There currently is no House companion bill.
The Torres bill comes amid a push to legalize cannabis via the state constitution. Smart & Safe Florida has been largely funded by Trulieve, which has donated $25.5 million to the cause already. That initiative, ironically enough, has just over 420,000 valid signatures. It needs 891,589 to make the 2024 ballot.
The amendment push does not include homegrown cannabis, but would permit Floridians to “own, buy, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for personal, non-medical use.”
Recreational cannabis bills have been tried and failed over the years in the Florida Legislature, with former Gov. Rick Scott and current Gov. Ron DeSantis not being marijuana fans.
“What I don’t like about it is if you go to some of these places that have done it, the stench when you’re out there, I mean, it smells so putrid,” DeSantis has said. “I want people to be able to breathe freely.”