A Florida legislator proposed a measure last week to decriminalize all illicit drugs, provide boulevards for assistance for those with existing drug-related offenses and encourage harm reduction services.
Early last week, Representative. Dotie Joseph (D-FL) filed the measure titled the “Collateral Consequences of [Sentences] and Decriminalization of [Cannabis] and All Drugs Act.”
Specifically, the article regarding cannabis in the measure would make possession of up to one ounce a non-criminal infraction punishable with a measly $50 fine versus a misdemeanor crime. Further, it would apply the corresponding non-criminal punishment to the distribution of up to an ounce of cannabis.
Those with past convictions for similar cannabis-related crimes will qualify for automatic expungements if more than a year has passed since the date of the cannabis-related arrest.
The measure continues on to say that the government intends for the triage of rehabilitative health mediation instead of criminalization for individual, private usage of controlled substances, including but is not restricted to other drugs like depressants cocaine, opioids, methamphetamine, heroin, benzodiazepines, fentanyl, and other addictive controlled substances.
Additionally, crimes related to the private, individual usage and possession of controlled substances such as cannabis that do not include production, delivery, or retail would be decriminalized in favor of civic fines and referral for harm reduction services and drug rehabilitation.
In the matter of the health and public safety of the citizens of Florida, protecting private freedoms without decreasing community values, enabling law enforcement to concentrate resources on violent and characteristic crimes, producing revenue for education, substance abuse opposition, and rehabilitation, freeing civic resources to reinvest in neighborhoods and other civic purposes instead of continuing to over-encumber prisons with a populace that needs therapeutic attention, investigating remedial equity on the terrible impression bestowed by the ‘war on drugs,’ and recognizing real people-centered resolutions to a litany of drugs emergencies such as an opioid epidemic, the Florida Legislature is prioritizing therapy and safety to save lives instead of discarding them via cannabis criminalization and incarceration.
The Florida legislation would further challenge the Florida Health Department to investigate additional, practical methods of approaching drug addiction versus cannabis criminalization.
The department would be forced to submit a report on its conclusions to the Florida governor and legislative leaders by the end of this year. Specifically: December 31, 2022.
When it comes to collateral outcomes of cannabis convictions, Rep. Joseph is introducing a prosecutorial policy shift where people arrested for drug offenses (including cannabis) are made cognizant of potential consequences when it comes to housing and employment possibilities, student financial aid, and even voting rights.
Moreover, the measure would revise the statute to ensure that people who face sentences in other locales or at the federal tier do not face more harsh punishments under Florida law.
The measure provides a petition process via the Board of Executive Clemency for a certificate of renewal of rights releasing collateral sanctions not earlier than five years after the individual’s most recent drug-related conviction of a felony or misdemeanor in any domain.
This is another example of state lawmakers pursuing cannabis and entire drug reform to end cannabis criminalization, with a center on public health, safety, and equity.
For instance, a young New Hampshire legislator is pushing for the decriminalization of psilocybin and all illicit substances currently listed.
Earlier this spring, a 20-year-old Kansas administrator introduced a measure to widen the decriminalization of drug possession for the entire state.
Earlier this summer, An alliance of cannabis reform advocates in Washington made it clear that they’ll look to pass a decriminalization measure for the state on next year’s ballot.
Recently, a task force located in Seattle issued guidance advising that provincial and municipal admins decriminalize magic mushrooms—and ultimately consider legalizing all drugs.
In adjacent Oregon, voters passed two separate statewide initiatives last year, one decriminalizing possession of all drugs and another to legalize the magic mushroom compound psilocybin.