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Brandes Pitches Legalized Weed And Expungement For Simple Possession Charges

Steve Cannon
Credit Steve Cannon / AP

Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St.Petersburg) wants to legalize marijuana for adult use and also clear simple possession cannabis charges for those convicted across the state. It’s the first time a Republican has sponsored such legislation in Florida.

Brandes says he wants to make sure the legislature decides how recreational marijuana use for adults should be dealt with in the state. Citizens are currently gathering signatures to put legalized marijuana on the ballot. The group leading the effort, Make It Legal Florida, had aimed to have the proposal before voters in November but announced Monday it won't make the signature deadline. Another group, Regulate Florida, gathered signatures but confirmed they wouldn't meet signature deadline in December.

“To me this is a matter of when, not if," says Brandes. "We believe that the whole trajectory in the country and the state of Florida is moving toward adult use."

His bill would allow those 21 and older to buy the product but only from medical marijuana treatment centers. A measure to completely legalize the drug has been proposed by Democrats in the past but Brandes's bill goes a step further.

"If you have a previous possession charge, this will allow you to go to the court to get that expunged from your record," he explained.

The measure also outlines steps for expunging prior marijuana convictions. Brandes estimates it would clear thousands of convictions from criminal record history.

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Blaise Gainey is a Multimedia Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.