Image of Revised recreational marijuana bill SB 1176
Revised recreational marijuana bill SB 1176, died in the Regulated Industries Committee
The bill was the second attempt by Miami-Dade Senator Dwight Bullard to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. His first attempt, SB 1562, was filed on Feb. 28, 2014. That bill also died in the Regulated Industries Committee (May 2, 2014).
The difference between the original bill and revised bill was that the revision “strengthened the efforts to direct revenue from the excise tax on marijuana to educational and health-related issues,” according to Bullard.
In simpler terms, the new bill stated that some of the profit made by the tax on recreational marijuana would go to the Department of Health and Department of Education.
A group of teary-eyed mothers sit together in a room. They are unable to finish their sentences without bursting into tears or yelling in rage at the injustice they and their children face. These parents are not getting emotional over marijuana. Their tears and yells are for letting their children see the next day.
This is the image that Jordan Rutzke, a freshman sociology major, experienced firsthand at the Cannabis Career Institute in Miami. The experience led to his interest in advocating for both medical and recreational marijuana. He stated, “You shouldn’t keep that from somebody. It’s not a secret that marijuana is beneficial.”
His belief is “if the universe is putting things here at our own hands to use … why should we make it illegal? It just blows my mind.”
The Recreational Marijuana bill SB 1176 filed by Florida Senator Dwight Bullard would legalize the possession/transfer of 2.5 ounces of marijuana. It also allows for possession of six seedlings/plants for those who are 21 and over. Bullard previously attempted to file an identical bill last year, SB 1562, that died in the Regulated Industries Committee in the Senate.
Bullard explained via email that the difference between SB 1176 and last year’s bill is that the new bill “strengthened the efforts to direct revenue from the excise tax  on marijuana to educational and health-related issues.”
This refers to the five percent of revenue that would go to the Department of Health for marijuana research, as well as the 10 percent of revenue from tobacco products directed to the Department of Education for teacher training and prevention of tobacco use by children.
Bullard re-filed the bill because he believes the issue is significant enough to keep in “statewide conversation,” due to the legalization issue being connected with concerns such as new revenue sources for the state, medical use and incarceration rate.
The Florida Department of Corrections reported that as of Dec. 31, 2014, drug manufacturing/selling and purchasing is the third most frequent offense with 7,579 inmates, coming in behind robbery with weapon and burglary of a dwelling.
When asked if he thought the bill would pass this time around, Bullard said “I don’t think the Florida legislature recognizes all the positive aspects of the issue.”
He mentioned other states — namely  Colorado, Washington and Alaska — that have had success with similar bills. Bullard thinks that success will cause more states to influence the issue. Jordan Rutzke believes the bill has flaws, such as not having a big campaign attached to it, but mentioned that the bill was meant to act as a step in the door.
He also added that, “thoughts are energy so if everybody thinks that it will [pass], I think that it will [pass].

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