Petitions circulated to legalize recreational pot

At least two petitions are now circulating Central Florida, both with a similar goal: to legalize marijuana in the Sunshine State.

During a marijuana advocacy event Friday in Downtown Orlando, members of Regulate Florida and Floridians for Freedom both gathered signatures for their efforts in hopes of putting their measures on the 2020 ballot.

The Regulate Florida petition would, in part, regulate marijuana in a way similar to alcohol by allowing adults to use it, share it, and grow it, with limits, in their homes.

The Floridians for Freedom measure would guarantee the rights of people, 21 and older, to possess, use, and grow marijuana in their homes. According to the group’s website the measure would reserve to the state the rights to regulate purchase and sale in the name of health and safety.

While some at the Ace Café Friday said it was time to take the bold step, others just worked to clean up the current image of marijuana in the state.

The event, organized by the new Orlando chapter of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) was a sort of open forum for educators and members of the marijuana advocacy community to destigmatize the plant.

“Break the stigma,” said Chris Charman of Orlando NORML. "We want people to understand that this isn't just about sitting around and rolling a joint and getting high."

Among the advocates at the event were cannabis product producers, local growers, and patients who have benefitted from medicinal use.

Charman and others said cutting that stigma is especially essential as the current laws continue to evolve in the state legislature.

Last month, the Governor ordered lawmakers to remove the smoking ban in the current medicinal marijuana law, but early bills coming out to do so are coming with red tape attached.

It’s unclear if those will be enough for the governor or if he will proceed on his own.