Florida is on its way to legalizing marijuana if a new petition by lawyer Michael Minardi gets its way. Though previous attempts to legalize the drug, including through an election, have been unsuccessful, Minardi’s petition could just get marijuana in every retail store in Florida permanently.
Minardi, a prominent West Palm Beach lawyer who recently won a landmark case that allowed the use of medical marijuana as a defense, has a plan to get marijuana legalized in Florida. He has teamed up with fellow lawyer Bill Wohlsifer and prominent marijuana activist Karen Goldstein to start a corporation Sensible Florida and its associate organization, Regulate Florida.
The group has initiated a proposed amendment to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult persons.
Their amendment, the “Florida Cannabis Act” proposes the legalization of pot and its regulation just like alcohol. The amendment outlines regulations allowing any person over 21 to possess up to an ounce of the plant. It also allows licensed adults to grow up to six of the plants at home.
The act, however, is not a blanket approval of all forms of marijuana usage.
It has checks and balances which Minardi explained, “It doesn’t allow for driving while on cannabis; it limits the age to 21 — much like the way alcohol is sold and regulated. It creates a licenses-regulated system of distribution to make sure we have the safety of the products and safety for consumers as a priority, much like they do in Colorado. Whenever any kind of product is regulated, it makes sure people are getting a safe product.”
Over the summer, Florida’s Division of Elections gave Minardi and his team the go ahead to collect 683,149 verified signatures belonging to Florida voters, which are needed to have the petition placed in the November 2016 ballot.
Previous attempts to have cannabis legalized in the state have fallen flat.
Last year, a popular initiative by United for Care fell short of a majority by only two percentage points. Earlier in the year, Miami Sen. Dwight Bullard attempted to file a bill allowing Floridians 21 or older to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of pot, yet it flopped before getting anywhere.
In acknowledging the work ahead, Minardi said, “We’ve got a lot of things in the works to get this thing done.”
Attempts to legalize marijuana in the state have been faced with heavy backlash by conservatives keen on ensuring children do not get exposed to the drug too early. But with other states such as Colorado legalizing the plant and with the right strategy, Minardi may succeed where other have failed.