Recreational marijuana hasn’t made it to the Florida ballot just yet. But more than a year ahead of the 2020 election, the City of South Miami is taking a strong stance in support of legalization. Late last month, the city commission passed a resolution supporting the legalization of recreational pot in Florida for people age 21 and older.
The resolution was brought forth by Vice Mayor Walter Harris to “make a stand” against the criminalization of a drug that has no major detriments to the city’s adult population.
“I say it’s time we accept the fact that this is not ‘the devil’s drug,'” Harris said at South Miami’s May commission meeting. “Cities enforce marijuana arrests only when they want to get someone in a lot of trouble.”
Mayor Philip Stoddard said his main concern initially was the effect legalization would have on the youth in the community. But after finding data from Colorado showing marijuana use did not rise in children and teens after it was legalized there, he jumped on board.
While the resolution is little more than a symbolic gesture by the commission, it’s one of the first times a Florida city has officially supported legalizing pot for anything other than medical use. Activists are now in the midst of a petition drive to get recreational marijuana on the ballot in 2020. So far, Regulate Florida has gathered more than 70,000 signatures.
While Democrats in the Florida Legislature have made several attempts to decriminalize recreational use of the drug, including HB 1117 sponsored by Rep. Michael Grieco, each has died in committee. Florida Republicans including Gov. Ron DeSantis, meanwhile, have tried to stonewall civilian efforts to get weed on the ballot.
“I am clearly supportive of [adult recreational weed legalization], as are 65 percent of today’s Floridians,” Grieco tells New Times. “If the Legislature can’t see fit to honor the will of the supermajority of Florida, then I look forward to seeing it on the ballot in the near future.”
While legalization is still far from a reality, it’s not hard to imagine a future where anyone could walk into a dispensary and make a purchase. At least we know that if Florida ever does legalize weed, South Miamians will finally get to enjoy some Sunset Sherbet at Sunset Place.