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Taking The Marijuana Debate To A Higher Level

Brett Levin via Flickr

Never mind a medical exception. A North Florida Democrat wants to go a step further and legalize marijuana outright. Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda expects more than local resistance.

It’s the kind of doomed legislation you would expect from the minority caucus. But Rehwinkel Vasilinda says she wants to stir debate -- and she’s using an unusual strategy to do it. Her bill removes marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug from the list of controlled substances.

“It’s pushing ideas forward and there’s nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

Schedule 1 is the most restricted level on the list and puts marijuana on par with heroin and LSD. Rehwinkel Vasilinda says crossing out marijuana makes it legal. She argues it would unclog court dockets and thin prison populations.

The Florida Sheriff’s Association won’t be on board.

Association president David Shoar doesn’t think death rates will climb or marijuana necessarily leads to harder drugs. But society, and law enforcement, don’t need another headache, he says.

“It’s another choice of intoxicants for people to engage in that can have the same results as other intoxicants.”

Another Democrat, Senator Dwight Bullard of Miami, wants to decriminalize private use and tax marijuana sales.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.