Yesterday, August 26, 2015, Regulate Florida received the go-ahead to begin collecting signatures for a landmark petition to change how Florida deals with marijuana (cannabis). The proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution will regulate the commerce of cannabis with age restrictions and guidelines for licensing as well as the rights for adults over 21 to possess and cultivate the plant at home.
If passed by over 60 percent of Floridians, the initiative will have the effect of dramatically reducing the taxpayer expense of housing Floridians in state prisons while generating a large amount of tax revenue for the state. According to the nation’s most authoritative survey, a majority of Americans now favor the legalization of marijuana. The measure comes at a time when Americans and Floridians are more willing to acknowledge the reality that the War on Drugs has been an abject failure and marijuana is mostly seen as less harmful than other products legally or illegally. The Regulate Florida’s aim is to have a marijuana industry flourish in the state, generating revenue and reducing crime.
The initiative was crafted by 2014 Florida Attorney General candidate Bill Wohslifer, Esq. and Michael Minardi, Esq. Through their teamwork, as well as some dedicated volunteers, the Florida government has given its approval for them to begin collecting signatures in an effort to get the measure on the November 2016 ballot.
Wohslifer stated yesterday in an email, “Sensible Florida, Inc. was not the first team to ask me to draft a regulation ballot initiative for the 2016 general election. I declined earlier opportunities because of limitations on my volunteer time. But when Karen Goldstein introduced me to the team she was developing this initiative with, I could not say no. I worked with Karen in the past on the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act. I trust her judgment and insight.” Marc Feldman, a Libertarian seeking the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination, stated this morning on Facebook that he “will be more excited to read that Florida could be the next state to regulate marijuana like oregano.” Feldman may get his wish as a few other initiatives are underway; however, it is anyone’s guess as to which will make it on the November 2016 ballot for Florida voters to vote for or against. We will review all of the initiatives another day.
Florida, like New Jersey, are becoming known as states where medical cannabis (CBD) is legal on the books, but in reality it is not available for Florida patients. Despite Florida’s CBD law’s (FS 381.986) January 1, 2015 deadline, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) has yet to issue a single nursery license. Sensible Florida’s petition was written in such a comprehensive manner to sufficiently avoid the delay and confusion that Florida’s CBD patients and their families are currently experiencing. Its unusual length results from the desire to provide absolute guidance to the legislature and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).
The petition contains no revenue limiting text. Thus, it neither creates nor abrogates licensing fees or any form of taxation on cannabis production and consumption. Under the amendment, if the state breaches its duty to timely create regulations or process license applications, the counties and municipalities can begin issuing licenses to be effective January 2018.
Each business licensee must meet a five-year Florida-residency requirement, but not owners and investors. The intent of this clause in the amendment is to encourage out-of-state investment in Florida while under the executive leadership of Floridians.
Regulate Florida is seeking to garner one million signed petitions even though 683,149 verified signatures are needed. It is normal for many petitions to be thrown out due to it not being signed or not being able to verify the signator is a registered Florida voter. Volunteers can register on the Regulate Florida website and can also download and print the petition to give to family, friends and co-workers to sign. All signed petitions should be mailed to Sensible Florida, Inc., PO BOX 551600, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33355. The petition organizers will gather in Fort Lauderdale tomorrow morning for a press conference and celebration at Bar Stache located at 109 SW 2nd Avenue at 11 a.m.