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Florida Lawmakers Pushing for Changes to Marijuana Laws

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Outline of Florida in weed leaves, Florida Lawmakers Pushing for Changes to Marijuana Laws

Florida Lawmakers Pushing for Changes to Marijuana Laws

Its official that gutsy lawmakers in the Sunny State of Florida are trying to make the future brighter for those who like to light up and smoke cannabis for whatsoever purpose. With many Florida lawmakers pushing for changes to marijuana laws, we are hoping to see recreational marijuana sooner than later.

Orlando lawmaker Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith recently filed a bill in the state Legislature to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida. His bill was joined with Sen. Jeff Brandes bill to introduce two respective laws.

This article looks at Florida marijuana laws and how far they have come towards legalization. In order to understand current contentions of lawmakers, we thought it would suffice to initially look into the past of cannabis laws in Florida – also as related to the grander war on drugs.

The Current Law on Cannabis in Florida

Cannabis in Florida is as of yet, illegal for recreational use – and legal for medical use. Patients with a licensed doctors recommendation can obtain medical marijuana from licensed FL dispensaries. They must qualify for a patient identification card after discussing their condition with a physician and establishing residency in the state.

As things stand now, physician recommendations may not exceed more than three 70-day supply limits of cannabis. There is also no specified limit on the amount of cannabis a medical marijuana patient may possess. Its also clear that home cultivation is not permitted.

The current law furthermore states that possession of up to 20 grams is a misdemeanor offense thats punishable by up to a year in prison, or a fine of up to $1000, in addition to the suspension of ones drivers license.

Several cities and counties have passed restructurings to enforce lesser penalties, with Florida in limbo until now. By amending the Florida Constitution, recreational marijuana now finally has a chance of becoming legal in Florida. However, the amendment is still gaining signatures for a place on the 2022 ballot – and until then, cannabis remains a controlled Schedule 1 substance.

The Bills Put Forward in Favor of Recreational Cannabis

According to the Florida Legislatures website, Smiths HB 343 bill authorizes person 21 years of age or older to possess & deliver marijuana products in a specified amount. Sen. Brandes bill, SB 710, supplements the former by revising the sales tax exemption for the sale of marijuana and marijuana delivery for those qualified to purchase it.

Another one of the Florida lawmakers pushing for changes to Marijuana Laws, is Nick Hansen, chairman of Make it Legal Florida. By leading the petition to get a constitutional amendment on the 2022 ballot to make adult recreational marijuana freely available, Hansen is driving the legislation.

Based on the success and normalization of medical marijuana in Florida, Hansen contends the chances for the bill to pass are good once the amendment can make it onto the ballot.

Intentions of the New Laws

The bills would ideally establish a robust and free-market regulatory method to the governance of the cultivation, processing, and sales of adult-use marijuana.

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The legislation would moreover allow people of age 21 and older to purchase and use limited amounts of marijuana without having to obtain a medical marijuana card.

Both lawmakers have introduced similar legislation in the past. Being a personal liberty issue for Sen. Brandes, he firmly believes its all a matter of time before adult use is legal. Brandes also firmly reckons it will generate additional revenue for the state.

Floridas Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried, shared her piece of the pie encompassing three reasons why she supports the legalization legislation. According to her, it would strengthen the economy, start to right the wrongs in the current flawed justice system and be a good source of state revenue altogether.

Proclaimed to have the power to help in a variety of ways, its not just the revenue that comes in in the grand scheme of things. It also has a lot to do with the fact that law enforcement is now focusing on more serious crimes than trying to find somebody who is walking around with a joint or two.

The bill would allow adults in Florida to purchase 2.5 ounces of cannabis or a product with up to 2 grams of THC content. Smoking marijuana in public would remain illegal either way. But the fact remains, according to many, the need to end Floridas prohibition of responsible adult use of cannabis is long overdue.

We are in agreement that these proposed bills create a sensible framework for legalization that can earn the support needed to pass the Florida legislature. It doesnt include everything we want to see yet, but its certainly a good start to finally move past the draconian cannabis ban era.

The Role of the Public in Boosting Legalization

In the view of Brandes and his supports, most states resort to a citizen-driven ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. The reason for this, being because most legislatures dont have the courage to do whats right.

Other groups in Florida also are pursuing signatures necessary to put constitutional amendments on the ballot in order to expand the legal use of adult-use cannabis.

There are over 300,000 jobs in the cannabis industry. CTU trained me for one of them!

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– Johanna Rose
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One such amendment would allow using medical marijuana to treat mental health problems. Another would allow adults to grow cannabis for their own medicinal use, while yet another group wants marijuana regulated in the same way that alcohol sales are regulated.

It will require millions more signatures to collect at least 300,000 more to secure a spot on the 2022 ballot. And once this goal is achieved, they have to clear a ballot language review before going to the Florida Supreme Court.

Florida Lawmakers Pushing for Changes to Marijuana Laws Recap

We can safely assume and conclude that Florida voters prefer a more controlled marketplace for medical cannabis that provides them with a comfort level. And that shared and sought comfort level makes Florida more likely to legalize marijuana in its recreational form.

As an interesting fact, one survey shows well over 90% of American adults believe marijuana should be legal. So, why shouldnt Floridians have access to this previously controversial American novelty, next? With some fierce Florida lawmakers pushing for changes to marijuana laws, it might happen sooner than later.



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Election 2022

America hits 21 legalization states after midterm election

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America officially reached 21 legalization states Tuesday night, after a thrilling, surprising midterm election that added Maryland and then Missouri to the green team.

More than 12 million Americans in those states became equal to their countrymen and women in 19 other states where marijuana freedom rings. That’s 6.168 million Missourians and 6.165 million Marylanders out of the disastrous, 85-year-old war on marijuana.

Maryland won early Tuesday night with 65% of the vote. Missouri followed later with a strong 53% of the vote after 89% of precincts reporting. Citizens voted by mail and in person.

Five states had cannabis initiatives on the ballot, and Colorado voted on psychedelics legalization. Here’s the Day 2 breakdown:

Legalization measures failed in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota, but furthered debate in the deeply red states. Arkansas’ measure in particular drew the ire of cannabis activists for limiting home growing, and other restrictions.

Weedy victories access the land

A slew of good news greeted America’s majority for legalization. Pro-pot Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman clinched the win over Dr. Oz for the crucial Senate seat.

Meanwhile, more than two dozen California cities and counties voted on implementing legalization, 4 years after sales began. Americans returned staunchly pro-weed governors Gavin Newsom (California) and J.B. Pritzker (Illinois) to their seats. Five cities in Texas also decriminalized weed.

US House and Senate

The smoke’s still clearing on the battle for the US House and Senate. As of press time, the Senate looked almost tied, while Republicans also seemed set to have a near tie in the House. Republican gains proved far narrower than anticipated. The red wave amounted to a red meh.

What does the 2022 midterm elections mean for weed?

Marijuana freedom took another halting step forward Tuesday, but the path ahead requires grit. A legal Missouri and Maryland, a staunchly pro-cannabis Pennsylvania Senator Fetterman adds fuel to the fire of federal reform.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans a SAFE Banking Plus bill for the lame duck. Republicans had already signed off on SAFE. The idea of more radical bills seem further off.

Reform will accelerate in the states. For example, New York’s recreational store roll-out will be the story of the winter break.

Meanwhile, California leaders aim to trade with other legalization states in the near-term, not long term.

State and local California officials plan to issue more licenses faster, cut red tape and taxes, and crack down on the illicit trade. Tuesday night votes could add 150 new licenses in the coming years, MJBiz Daily estimates.

Newly legal Missouri and Maryland harbor a 12.4M-person population. Those two cannabis markets alone consume about 350 metric tons of weed a year, based on survey data. At full legalization, that weight might equal $770M in crop value for those two states, and retail sales would be quadruple that amount at full legalization—$2.1B. Weed is usually a top 5 cash crop in legal states.

Beyond those states, upcoming legalization measures are expected in Oklahoma, Ohio, Florida, Nebraska, and Wyoming.

Sign up for Leafly Newsletters for the next big legalization update.



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Finally, Cannabis Is Legal in the State of New York

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Finally, cannabis is legal in the state of New York.

It has been a long time coming after many years of failed weed proposals to legalize cannabis in the state. On the last day of March 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill making New York the 15th state in the country to legalize adult-use cannabis.

Just hours after the state’s Senate and Assembly passed the legislation the night before, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) decriminalizes cannabis and allows for the regulation of its sale, production, and use.

Cannabis is Legal in the State of New York But What Is Legal?

In the state of New York, medical and adult-use cannabis will be regulated by the newly-established Office of Cannabis Management (OCM).

The industry is expected to bring in $350 million in annual tax revenue and billions of dollars and sales. It is expected to create between 30,000 to 60,000 jobs. It’s expected to be the largest market for cannabis behind California.

Minimum age requirement: 21

Possession limit: Up to 3 ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of cannabis concentrates; 5 pound limit at home

Home cultivation limit: Up to 6 plants for personal use (up to 3 can be mature); Up to 12 plants per household

Tax rate: 13%

Social Equity

Under the MRTA, 50% of establishment licenses must be issued to social equity applicants.

Social equity applicants include:

  • Applicants who are from communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition
  • Women-owned businesses
  • Distressed farmers
  • Service-disabled veterans

For businesses with 25 or more employees, the OCM will give priority to applicants that have set up peace labor agreements or use union labor to build their facility. A two-year review from the OCM will determine if a licensee meets its eligibility requirements.

Criminal Justice and Record Expungement

Currently, low-level possession of cannabis results in thousands of arrests per year, 90% of which are people of color in New York. Now, possession will no longer be criminalized and those criminal records will be erased.

The law will automatically expunge or resentence anyone with a prior cannabis conviction that would be legal under the new law. Individuals with past convictions would be allowed to participate in the new adult-use market.

In addition, the law adds cannabis to the clean indoor air act which determines where cannabis can be smoked or vaped. However, individual jurisdictions can create stricter regulations to control cannabis smoking and vaping in public.

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Social Consumption and Delivery

Social consumption facilities and delivery services will be permitted.

However, cities and towns have the option to opt-out of commercial cannabis activity. Individual jurisdictions must opt-out by December 31, 2021.

Medical Program Expansion

The MRTA directs authority over the state’s medical cannabis program from the Department of Health to the OCM.

In particular, the law does the following:

  • Expands the list of medical conditions eligible for medical marijuana use
  • Increases the number of caregivers allowed per patient
  • Allows medical cannabis patients to cultivate cannabis at home (including outdoors)
  • Expands possession limits of medical cannabis to a 60-day supply, up from the previous 30-day limit
  • Removes restrictions on smoking medical cannabis

Cannabinoid Hemp

The MRTA directs authority over the state’s hemp program from the Department of Agriculture and Markets to the OCM.

The bill allows for the sale of hemp flower (available at adult-use dispensaries).

Tax Revenue

Tax revenue from the state’s adult-use market will be directed to the New York state cannabis revenue fund. The funds will cover reasonable costs to run the program and implement the law. The rest of the funding will be split three ways:

  • 40% to Education
  • 40% to Community Grants Reinvestment Fund
  • 20% to Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund

Traffic Safety

The New York State Department of Health alongside higher education institutions will conduct a study designed to evaluate methodologies and technologies for the detection of cannabis-impaired driving.

The law will direct funding to increase the number of trained and certified drug-recognition experts and provide increased drug recognition awareness and advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement training.

Cannabis is Legal in the State of New York Road Ahead

Why has it taken so long to legalize weed in New York? Ultimately, Governor Cuomo and the state legislature haven’t been able to compromise on the details of the adult-use program.

Even up to the last hours of debate, lawmakers hurriedly implemented changes and compromises. Previous proposals were stalled due to disagreements over how tax revenue should be distributed.

There are over 300,000 jobs in the cannabis industry. CTU trained me for one of them!

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– Johanna Rose
Makes $24.50 @ THC +

In the end, Democrat lawmakers fought for a major portion of the revenue to go to communities that have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. Governor Cuomo eventually made concessions that may have been largely influenced by his impeachment investigation.

No matter the reason, weed is legal in New York now. The bill has surprisingly become one of the most progressive bills implemented. From social equity and criminal justice reform to expansion of the medical program, New York’s industry has a promising future.

Stay In-the-Know

If you want to stay up-to-date with the latest industry developments, subscribe to Cannabis Training University’s marijuana industry blog.

For a complete cannabis education on the industry’s most important topics, enroll in one of the online marijuana training courses from CTU.



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Virginia Becomes 16th State to Legalize Cannabis

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It’s official. The state of Virginia has become the 16th state to legalize cannabis. Originally, lawmakers planned to allow adults 21 years of age and over to possess and grow weed starting January 1, 2024. However, Democratic Governor Ralph Northam proposed moving up the legalization timeline to allow adults to possess and grow cannabis starting on July 1, 2021.

What Is and Is Not Legal?

This new bill makes Virginia the first state in the South to legalize the simple possession of cannabis. The state’s House of Delegates and Senate approved the governor’s proposal with a razor-thin margin.

Starting on July 1, 2021, the following will be legal for adults aged 21 and older:

Possession Limit: Up to 1 ounce of cannabis

Home cultivation: Up to 4 plants

Gifting: Up to 1 ounce to any adult

Possessing more than the one-ounce limit and less than a pound can earn you a $25 fine. Possessing more than a pound can be charged with a felony punishable by 1 to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.

In terms of home cultivation, each plant must be tagged with the growers name, driver’s license or state identification number, and a note that says it’s being grown for personal use. Plants must also be not visible from a public street or be accessible to minors.

Growing between 5 and 10 plants can earn you a $250 fine. Growing more than 50 plants is punishable with a felony charge.

Retail sales would still have to wait until regulations go into effect on January 1, 2024.

Virginia lawmakers must still meet during their general session in 2022 to re-approve the regulatory framework of the bill.

Close Call

Governor Northam has been a strong proponent of reforming the Virginia cannabis law. In February 2021, lawmakers sent amendments to his desk to legalize recreational cannabis. Late in March, the governor submitted his revisions the both chambers:

The House and Senate passed these amendments by the following majorities:

  • House: 53-44
  • Senate: 21-20

In the Senate, Democratic Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax broke the tie.

After the initial votes, both chambers passed each other’s proposals to effectively move up the legalization date and pass other amendments without any further approval from the governor.

Democratic House of Delegates Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn said of the decision: “Today, with the Governor’s amendments, we will have made tremendous progress in ending the targeting of Black and brown Virginians through selective enforcement of marijuana prohibition by this summer”

Social Equity

A major part of the push for the bill by the governor was his insistence on repairing the damage caused by the war on drugs. One study found that Black Virginians were 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis crimes compared with white people. It also found that they were more likely to be convicted at a rate of 3.9 times higher than white people.

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Even after the state lowered penalties for possession to a $25 fine, a disproportionate amount of Black people were still being charged.

The new law allows for the automatic sealing of past misdemeanor cannabis convictions. It also creates a petition-based process that allows individuals with more serious cannabis convictions to clear their records.

30% of the revenue from cannabis would be directed to communities most affected by the war on drugs to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund. Funds would go to scholarships, job placement services, workforce development, and low- or no-interest loans for those wanting to start a cannabis business.

The bill would also give preference in licensing to those affected by the war on drugs. Virginians who have been convicted of a cannabis-related charge or who have a family member who has been convicted, or live in an area that is disproportionately affected by the war on drugs would get preferential treatment for licensing for any license type.

Public Health Education and Enforcement

The governor’s substitute bills will direct funding to public health education and law enforcement services including:

  • Public Health Education: $1 million to educate the youth about the health risks of cannabis.
  • Law Enforcement: $1 million to increase and improve training law enforcement to “recognize and prevent drugged driving.”

Employee Rights

In a win for employee rights, an amendment passed would give regulators authority to revoke a business license if an establishment interferes with attempts to organize a union.

In addition, license revocation could happen if a company “fails to pay a prevailing wage as defined by the United States Department of Labor” or have more than 10% of employees listed as independent contractors.

Fighting for More Reform

Racial justice advocates have been at the forefront fighting for speedy and efficient legalization from the start. The ACLU of Virginia and Marijuana Justice were extremely vocal against the legislature’s decision to delay legislation until 2024.

Advocates celebrated the recent victory but were still left wanting more. Virginia NORML Executive Director Jenn Michelle Pedini stated:

“In the interest of public and consumer safety, Virginians 21 and older should be able to purchase retail cannabis products at the already operational dispensaries in 2021, not in 2024. Such a delay will only exacerbate the divide for equity applicants and embolden illicit activity.”

Members of the Cannabis Equity Coalition of Virginia argued for at least 70% of tax revenues to be directed to the reinvestment fund.

Public Favors Legalization

These recent changes in the law accurately reflect current public support for legalization. A recent February 2021 poll from the Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Civic Leadership found that two-thirds (68%) of Virginian adults supported recreational legalization. Only a slight majority (51%) of Republican-registered voters supports this.

Northam Approves Additional Reforms

In addition to the recent legislation, Governor Northam had recently approved several amendments to strengthen reform efforts and protect cannabis patients.

There are over 300,000 jobs in the cannabis industry. CTU trained me for one of them!

marijuana extraction course


– Johanna Rose
Makes $24.50 @ THC +

Early in March, Governor Northam approved legislation that would allow retailers to dispense botanical medical cannabis. Previously, license cultivators were required to process cannabis into oils and tinctures. Now, medical cannabis patients will be able to purchase products made of cannabis oil or botanical cannabis as early as September 2021.

In addition, the amendments would make telehealth improvements passed after COVID-19 permanent, and give patients in residential facilities increased access to medical cannabis.

In late March, the governor signed House Bill 1862 which gives employment protections for medical cannabis patients. It would prohibit employers from firing, disciplining, or discriminating against employees who use medical cannabis off the clock.

All of these measures take effect July 1, 2021.

Online Cannabis Education

Stay up-to-date with the latest cannabis industry developments by subscribing to the Cannabis Training University marijuana industry blog. For a comprehensive cannabis education, enroll in online marijuana training.



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