Florida voters will not get a chance to weigh in on the legalization of recreational marijuana this year.

A group called Make It Legal Florida had been hoping to get a recreational marijuana proposal on the state’s 2020 ballot. This proposed constitutional amendment would allow anyone age 21 or older to possess, use or buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use. But this question won’t make it on the ballot this year.

The group needed to secure and validate hundreds of thousands of signatures by Feb. 1, 2020. That did not happen, and the chairman said they have chosen to focus their efforts on 2022.

Could a change come from elsewhere?

While Florida voters will not be able to vote directly on such a measure this fall, that does not mean there is no chance for a change to the state’s possession laws. That could come from the state Legislature, for instance, and a couple of lawmakers did introduce a bill that would legalize recreational cannabis for those 21 and up.

Their colleagues, however, have so far seemed uninterested in taking on such a proposal. Midway through the 2020 session, there has been little movement on any marijuana-related bills.

A change to federal drug laws could open the door for a shift here in Florida as well, but there does not appear to be any movement in that regard.

Where this leaves Florida marijuana laws

Despite all of the chatter and purported support, Florida’s laws look unlikely to change anytime soon. That means, for the foreseeable future, individuals can face a wide range of potential penalties for a marijuana-related conviction.

Even possession of a very small amount – under 20 grams – can result in a year in jail plus a fine up to $1,000. Those consequences can quickly increase along with the amount of marijuana in question. Intent to sell can also net significant penalties.

This reality underscores the importance of having an aggressive legal defense. Florida law can be quite strict. If you’re caught up in a drug investigation or even facing charges, protecting your rights and pushing back against the accusations can make a huge difference.