Florida’s medical cannabis dispensaries could soon be selling adult-use cannabis

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Sen. Jeff Brandes of Florida has filed a bill that, if successful, will permit existing dispensaries to launch adult-use sales. Those dispensaries must first obtain the necessary licensing to conduct medical cannabis operations.

The Florida State Senator refiled his bill in an attempt to normalize the sale of adult-use cannabis to consumers aged 21 and above. His previous attempt fell flat last year.

Brandes’ updated draft legislation aims to make it possible for current medical cannabis retail store owners to serve individual customers with up to 2.5 ounces of the plant for recreational purposes.

Additional elements of Florida’s adult-use cannabis bill

Under the terms of Florida’s newly proposed cannabis bill, underage possession will become a second-degree misdemeanor for the first offense and a first-degree misdemeanor on any subsequent offenses.

The bill also enables landlords to prevent tenants from smoking or vaping the plant on their property. However, Florida’s adult-use cannabis bill does not offer an alternative solution for individuals who rent properties with landlords that prohibit public consumption, personal use and social use.

Criminal justice reform constitutes a major segment of Florida’s adult-use cannabis bill. In the event that it is effectuated, former offenders will benefit from prison resentencing and record expungement. Moreover, the bill creates new options for industry licenses, including processing and transportation.

Recreational cannabis sales will be taxed if Florida’s adult-use cannabis bill is approved. Meanwhile, medical cannabis sales will remain untaxed; tax rates are not specified. Cities and towns can impose their own specified taxes on recreational cannabis products.

Although home cultivation is not allowed as part of the proposed bill, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been instructed to study the benefits and dangers of home grows.

Also included in Brandes’ measure for adult-use cannabis in Florida is a 15 percent THC cap on all edible products.

Florida senator previously attempted to legalize adult-use sales in medical dispensaries

A similar measure was filed by Republican senator Brandes last year. Unfortunately, his first attempts were shot down and the bill struggled to get through the committee. While the most recent bill doesn’t have a companion in the House, Brandes remains optimistic.

“More harm has been caused by the prohibition of cannabis than by [cannabis] itself,” Brandes said on January 13, 2020 the day on which SB 1860 “Availability of Marijuana for Adult Use” was filed. “I believe decriminalizing cannabis will enable law enforcement to deal with more serious crimes and allow them to have a greater impact in our communities with their limited resources.”

Conversely, a separate legalization bill sponsored by Democrat state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith – an expansive bill that boasts four co-sponsors – struggled to make it through the chamber’s Health Quality Subcommittee during the last session.

Recreational cannabis remains illegal in Florida. Anyone caught in possession of up to 20 grams will be charged with a misdemeanor offense, which is punishable by the suspension of his or her driver’s license, up to one year behind bars and a fine of $1,000.

Medical use, on the other hand, was legalized in 2016 via a constitutional amendment Amendment 2. The initiative passed with 71 percent of votes.