Florida State Senator Introduces Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Is it only a matter of time before Florida sees recreational marijuana?
Is it only a matter of time before Florida sees recreational marijuana?
Photo by Nanette Gonzales


There are a lot of words here.

Big words.

Numbers too... decimal points... lot of really aggressive punctuation, brah.

As you may have heard, this week, Florida State Sen. Dwight Bullard introduced a piece of legislation that would Legalize It. Last year, Bullard -- who represents the 39th District, which includes all of Hendry and Monroe counties and parts of Collier and Miami-Dade counties -- introduced a similar proposal, which couldn't take flight out of committee due to a lack of support.

The proposal calls for the Sunshine State to overhaul its approach to marijuana cultivation and sales. The bill, if passed, would make it legal for consumers to hold up to 2.5 ounces of weed for recreational use produced by licensed growers and hawked by licensed retailers. The legislative session begins March 3 and goes until April.

We took a (completely sober) swing through the 50-pages of Senate Bill 1176 to give you a rundown of the specifics it proposes. (If you're a glutton for legalese or policy, you can check out the full bill here).

Taxes. In the bill's fine print, there's a provision for an "excise tax" that would be leveled at growers who would sell to retail facilities. It's $50 an ounce. The majority of that money would go into the state's general revenue fund. But up until January 2024, 5 percent of the money taken in would be shipped over to the Department of Health "to provide grants for the purpose of producing peer-reviewed research on marijuana's beneficial uses and safety."

Oh, and if a facility failed to make its tax payment, it would get its license yanked. Big Brother always gets his.

Speaking of those licenses... The application fee for getting a license wouldn't exceed $5,000. So it would probably cost $4,999. Fifty percent of the fee would go to the county where the applicant wanted to set up shop. The bill would allow only so many marijuana shops in a specific area, one store "per each 5,000 persons in a locality with a population over 20,000," two stores in a "locality with a population of at least 5,001 but less than 20,000," and one store in a place "with a population of at least 2,000 but less than 5,001."

Applicants who have a drug charge on their records would be out of luck -- unless the offense and punishment happened at least ten years back.

The licenses would be good for a year and must be renewed per annum.

Also, the bill makes it clear that preference would go to "an applicant who has at least 1 year of previous experience in operating another business in this state in compliance with state law."

Your local weedery also wouldn't be allowed within 500 feet of a school. It couldn't sell between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Also, no freebies on the house.

Let's get down to the smoking. Or eating. The bill would let a consumer have up to 2.5 ounces of weed or six seedlings. It wouldn't, however, mean you could light up in public. No public consumption.

Also, no kids. Minors need not apply. You'd have to be 21 and up to ride this ride. A minor caught in a weed establishment would be subject to a "noncriminal violation" that results in a "civil penalty of at least $200 and not more than $400." The checkbook penalty would grow with increased offenses.

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