Frank A. Rubino, ESQ.

FEDERAL AND INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL DEFENSE

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Is there a firm timetable for marijuana legalization in Florida?

If you're an ardent proponent of legalized pot in Florida, don't hold your breath.

And while you're refraining from doing so, go ahead and reaffirm your understanding that there is huge difference in meaning between the terms "introduction" and "implementation."

State Sen. Dwight Bullard (D-Cutler Bay) knows the distinction well. He filed a bill last year that sought to legalize recreational pot, only to see it fall quickly by the wayside. In fact, the legislation died in a Senate committee without even receiving a hearing.

Bullard is manifestly optimistic on the matter, though, and resubmitted the same bill again this past Monday. As noted in a media article discussing the bill and marijuana legalization in Florida, Bullard readily concedes that his bill "has no chance of passing," at least this year.

Nonetheless, the legislator hopes that its filing will serve as a catalyst to an open and honest debate on the subject by state lawmakers.

As Bullard sees it, legalizing pot would bring several salutary benefits to the state. For starters, it would decriminalize what he calls "a petty crime," which would, in turn, have an immediately positive effect on the criminal justice system (fewer prisoners, less money spent on investigations, freed-up police power to focus on other criminal activities and so forth). Second, regulating pot would help reduce product that can be tainted and dangerous. And, of course, sales of legalized marijuana would bring in large amounts of money for the state.

By all indications, Bullard's would-be law has a long way to go before it gains any real traction. Marijuana growth, use, possession and transport continue to be illegal activities under Florida law, and there is no firm timetable to alter that reality.

Notably, and earlier this week, Alaska became the third state -- following Colorado and Washington -- to legalize recreational marijuana.

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Frank A. Rubino, Esq.
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