The Florida Legislative Black Caucus understands we have been in better than a four-decade war on drugs. However, the criminalization of marijuana has perhaps been the most destructive part of that war specifically in communities of color. The toll on our communities can be measured in billions of dollars, which are mostly thrown away each year in the aggressive enforcement of pointless laws. It can be further measured in years, many wasted behind bars, with parents being stolen from children on weightless convictions. Lastly, measured in lives, damaged if not destroyed by the shockingly harsh consequences that can follow even the most minor offenses.
The Florida Legislative Black Caucus supports President Joe Biden’s call for Marijuana Reform, and respectfully asks Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature to support legislation or an executive order pardoning individuals convicted of the simple offense of marijuana possession. Too many people are serving long sentences for non-violent drug crimes, especially Black and Brown people who are disproportionately arrested and convicted for marijuana-related charges.
While their offenses were miniscule, the consequences of their convictions have been dire for the lives of those arrested and charged for simple marijuana possession. This federal marijuana reform and pardons will help thousands with prior convictions seeking housing, employment, benefits, and educational opportunities who are currently ineligible based on federal bars on individuals with prior drug convictions.
We urge the State of Florida to follow suit with the federal government and take a step in the right direction to end unnecessarily long sentences and harsh consequences that affect the livelihoods of those convicted for crimes related to marijuana, something which is now legal in many states.
The Florida Legislative Black Caucus is headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida.