Since 2015, the government of Florida has been steadily introducing more progressive laws that decriminalize the possession of small amounts. However, statewide it is still considered a misdemeanor offense to possess 20 grams or less of marijuana. This could potentially change as soon as this year, according to a recent press release by the Marijuana Policy Project.
The New Legalization Bills
As the Florida Legislature convenes for its 2020 session, there is promising potential for those who have criminal records involving cannabis. A new bill, HB 1389, would provide for the expungement of all cannabis convictions from people’s criminal records.
In addition to the above bill from the House, the Senate has also proposed a bill that would lay out the framework for complete legalization across Florida. SB 1860, introduced by Senator Jeff Brandes, would allow for the regulated sale of cannabis and make it legal for adults over 21 years of age. The bills will not be on the ballot for a popular vote but will be decided on by lawmakers.
Local decriminalization laws
While there can still be significant penalties, including arrest, for anyone caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana, some local counties and cities have passed ordinances that permit police officers to simply give people citations instead of arresting them. A criminal record can still result from paying such a citation.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has provided a list of which counties have passed these decriminalization measures. In Orlando, for instance, the penalty for less than 20 grams has been reduced to $100. In Miami-Dade county, the penalty has been reduced to $100 since June of 2015.