Miami- And so, the southeastern portion of the United States is slowly transitioning towards marijuana reform. After Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed a law to legalize medical marijuana earlier this month, leaders from other southeast states started to rethink policies on marijuana. Nearly a year since Amendment 2 was narrowly defeated on Election Day 2014, Miami-Dade County officials started the process of decriminalizing marijuana.
On a day where multiple new laws were to take effect in the state of Florida, Miami-Dade commissioners approved a law that allows police to treat marijuana possession as a minor offense. People who are caught possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana will be issued a civil citation of $100, keeping the minor offense out of the criminal system. According to Commissioner Sally Heyman, “We have better things to do with our police resources. For goodness sakes, we don’t have to destroy the lives of so many.”
On the surface, the move displays a moral attempt by city officials to protect citizens who are otherwise law abiding, but are caught with a personal amount of marijuana. Then, there is the notion that state leaders have opened their minds to the fact that marijuana legalization on the federal level is inevitable and they might as well start shifting state policies in that direction. In the next five years, the marijuana industry is projected to gross $13.4 billion in revenue. The fact that Amendment 2 was nearly passed at a time that wasn’t an electoral year, tells state officials that the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative will appear on the November 8 2016 ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment. By starting the decriminalization process now, advocates for marijuana legalization can start to incorporate their focus on establishing a system that works and generates a significant return on investment.
While Midwest and Pacific States are laying the foundation for a system that yields accountability and profitability, the east coast states are taking a more cautious approach towards marijuana legalization. The speed of progression of marijuana legalization will likely depend on the results in Washington, Oregon and Colorado. But early indicators point towards high tax revenues for the state, an overall improvement for the health care industry, and a system of compliance with the availability of marijuana tracking software like BioTrackTHC. Furthermore, studies continue to suggest that legalized marijuana doesn’t increase teen usage. In a post-recession economy where leaders scour through all possibilities for generating money and creating jobs, the legal marijuana industry is emerging as part of the solution to many economic problems.