There’s a petition campaign being conducted by Make it Legal Florida to amend the Florida state Constitution to make possession and use of small quantities of marijuana legal under Florida law.
I strongly support this change: the war on pot has criminalized too many people, disproportionately poor. The pot war also creates contempt for the law among an ever-larger population, one that thinks the ban is ridiculous and which thinks nothing of flouting the marijuana laws routinely. Also pernicious is the excuse, real or feigned, of ‘smelling marijuana’ that has justified a large number of law enforcement searches that would otherwise be illegal and, in poorer areas, would otherwise be seen as the discriminatory and coercive actions they are. (Wait until we have driverless cars and the ‘erratic lane change’ and ‘failure to signal’ excuses go out the window….)
While pot use may not be totally safe, and has little appeal for me, it doesn’t seem as dangerous or addictive as alcohol, which is legal for adults, nor for that matter (as far as we know) tobacco, which is still legal for the moment. Bans on pot, and arguably other drugs also, not only motivate and finance organized crime, they divert police resources from more important public safety issues. The large profits available in the illicit drug trade is a major source of potential corruption in law enforcement — although to be fair this is likely more true of harder drugs where the public health consequences of legalization would be more fraught.
Normally, you would expect this sort of change by legislation. But Florida is a 50/50 state which has a large gerrymandered Republican majority in the legislature. As a result, state constitutional amendments are often the only way to get progressive proposals adopted, even when they have as wide popular support as this one. Thus, in Florida purism about what does and doesn’t belong in a Constitution needs to be relaxed considerably from the ideal.
Crassly, putting a pot amendment on the 2020 ballot should also motivate increased turnout from younger voters, something which is usually good for progressive candidates. So that’s another reason for registered Florida voters (only) to download, sign, and mail the petition.
The petition contains a summary, reflecting what would be on the ballot. The full text of the amendment is also online.