Florida Representatives Show Bipartisan Support for Marijuana Reform, Citing Racial Disparities
On July 10th, bipartisan lawmakers held a congressional hearing to address potential avenues of marijuana reform. While they all agreed that change was long overdue, they had issues reaching a consensus on how to proceed, with four options on the table.
One problem that came up was the disparity between marijuana enforcement among visible minorities compared to white citizens. According to the Florida Phoenix, this caught the attention of some Florida representatives.
In light of this problem, six representatives from the predominantly conservative state of Florida have thrown their hats into the ring, also criticizing the inequality of drug enforcement.
Although on a micro scale compared to a congressional hearing, this bipartisan move in Florida is just another example of sweeping cannabis reform, held back only by a dam of counterproductive policies.
The Supporting Six
Since the June 10th hearing brought so many marijuana-related issues into the spotlight, six representatives from Florida voiced their support for marijuana reform legislation.
The Florida Phoenix explains:
“Six U.S. Reps from Florida – Democrats Charlie Crist, Al Lawson, Darren Soto and Ted Deutch, along with Republicans Matt Gaetz and Greg Steube – have signed on to bipartisan legislation to overhaul federal marijuana laws.”
Of all the representatives, Gaetz is arguably the most controversial – depending on a person’s perspective. Despite being a strong supporter of the Trump administration, Gaetz often refuses to tow the party line on the issue of cannabis reform.
He is also well aware of the division among the pro-marijuana crowd. He warns:
“If we further divide our movement, then I fear that we will continue to fall victim to that which has plagued other Congresses – and we won’t get anything done.”
Indeed, with a total of four avenues up for debate, this inevitably split the cause. Until they can rally around a single approach, this splintered group will not be remotely as effective, given the uphill battle they face.
Florida Marijuana Enforcment Plagued by Racial Disparities
Many lawmakers have been quick to point out the inequality in marijuana law enforcement. A perfect example of this trend is Florida – something our six aforementioned representatives want to change.
According to the Florida Phoenix:
“Florida is one of 24 states that jails (or threatens jail time) for marijuana possession, and racial disparities in enforcement are wider than the national average, according to The War on Marijuana in Black and White, a 2013 report by the American Civil Liberties Union. In Sarasota and Martin Counties, for example, black people are 10 times more likely to face arrest for marijuana possession than white people.”
This kind of inequality is beyond alarming, especially in an era where tolerance is a critical ability we are all expected to practice.
Support for Change
Three years have gone by since the successful passage of Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana in Florida. However, it was rather restrictive and met by lawmakers in what can only be described as childish and desperate opposition, as they deliberately dragged out its development.
Bureaucracy and petty politics aside, there is no doubt that Florida wants to see something done. In many areas, the process has already started.
According to the Florida Phoenix:
“Some Florida communities have passed measures to decriminalize marijuana possession, and a citizen-led effort to pass a state constitutional amendment in 2020 to legalize recreational marijuana is ongoing.”
Thus far, marijuana reform is not a massive, unstoppable, overt force. Rather, its progress is strong, but stealthy. Until a major law is passed, gradual change is the best we can hope for.
WeedAdvisor’s Optimism for a Future Industry
The route to complete marijuana legalization in the U.S. may not be a straight line, but we (and many others) understand that prohibition’s days are numbered.
Every representative, every city and every state that overhauls its existing cannabis laws represents a step forward in a battle that should never have started back in 1937.
As we wait for the final blow to this antiquated system, WeedAdvisor has prepared an excellent network of industry contacts and solutions to make daily operations and compliance easier than ever for government and corporate entities.