Florida Rep. Dotie Joseph (D) has filed a bill titled the “Collateral Consequences of Convictions and Decriminalization of Cannabis and All Drugs Act,” which would decriminalize all currently illicit drugs, provide avenues for relief for those with existing drug-related convictions and promote harm reduction services.
For cannabis specifically, it would make possession of up to one ounce a non-criminal violation punishable by a $50 fine, rather than a misdemeanor offense. It would apply the same non-criminal penalty to delivery of up to an ounce of marijuana. People with past convictions for those cannabis-related offenses would be eligible for automatic expungements if more than a year has elapsed since the date of the arrest.
The bill “intends the prioritization of rehabilitative health intervention in lieu of criminalization for personal usage of controlled substances, including but is not limited to stimulants including cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids, heroin, fentanyl, depressants or benzodiazepines, and other addictive controlled substance.”
Furthermore, crimes “associated with the personal usage and possession of controlled substances that do not involve production, distribution or sale shall be decriminalized in favor or civil fines and referral for drug rehabilitation.”
The legislation would further require the state health department to study “more effective methods of addressing drug addiction in lieu of criminalizing.”
When it comes to collateral consequences of drug convictions, Joseph is proposing a prosecutorial policy change where people arrested for drug offenses are explicitly made aware of possible repercussions when it comes to housing and employment opportunities, student financial aid and voting rights.