Sure, it's still a long shot, but state Sen. Dwight Bullard's efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Florida got a bit closer to reality today. A companion bill has been filed in the house by Rep. Randolph Bracy, a Democrat from Ocoee.
HB 1297 is pretty similar to Bullard's SB 1176. Both would allow Floridians to smoke pot recreationally, allow for the opening of retail stores (with limitation and approval of local governments), allow citizens to grow up to six marijuana plants, rename the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, and place an excise tax on marijuana.
The bill was filed just a week after Alaska became the third state to legalize recreational marijuana use. Voters in Oregon and Washington, D.C., have also approved recreational pot use, but it hasn't gone into effect yet in either locale.
However, just because Bullard's bill has found a house companion doesn't mean it's going anywhere. The senate version has been sent to the Regulated Industries, Criminal Justice, Finance and Tax, and Appropriations committees. But so far no Republican leaders have scheduled the bill for a hearing.
That's unsurprising, considering that a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for medical use (barely) failed at the polls last year. Legislators are also considering Republican-backed bills this year that would legalize non-smokable marijuana for medical use.
Bullard's efforts follow a similar push by his mother, former Sen. Larcenia Bullard, in 2011.
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