New Florida Bill Proposes Decriminalization of Psychedelics (and Every Other Illegal Drug)
New Florida Bill Proposes Decriminalization of Psychedelics (and Every Other Illegal Drug)

A new bill filed in Florida has proposed the decriminalization of psychedelics, along with the rest of currently illegal drugs, and the promotion of rehabilitation instead of criminalization for drug-related offenses.

Democratic Representative Dotie Joseph filed HB 725, titled the “Collateral Consequences of Convictions and Decriminalization of All Drugs Act,” last Tuesday.

The bill proposes that crimes associated with the personal use and possession of controlled substances that do not involve production, distribution, or sales be decriminalized in favor of civil fines or referral for drug rehabilitation.

“The Legislature intends the prioritization of rehabilitative health intervention in lieu of criminalization for personal usage of controlled substances, including but not limited to, stimulants, including cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids, heroin, fentanyl, depressants or benzodiazepines, and other addictive controlled substances,” the bill states.

It would also compel the Department of Health to conduct a study on more effective methods of addressing drug addiction instead of criminalization. “This study shall include but not be limited to supervised drug consumption in facilities, which have been proven to reduce public disorder associated with drugs, and lead to a drop in the behaviors linked to HIV and Hepatitis C transmission; programs that have been successful in Seattle, San Francisco, and Philadelphia; and any other rehabilitative centered solutions,” the bill says. 

The aim of the legislation is “prioritizing treatment and safety in an effort to preserve lives rather than discard them through criminalization and incarceration . . . in the interest of the health and public safety of the residents of Florida, preserving individual freedoms without sacrificing community costs, allowing law enforcement to focus resources on violent and property crimes, generating revenue for education, substance abuse prevention and treatment, freeing public resources to invest in communities and other public purposes rather than continuing to overburden prisons with a population that needs medical attention, seeking corrective equity on the impact of the ‘war on drugs,’ and identifying real people-centered solutions to various drug crises like the opioid epidemic.”

There is evidence that the widespread decriminalization of all drugs can lead to a dramatic drop in drug overdoses, HIV infection, and drug-related crime, as demonstrated by Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs in 2001.

Should this legislation go into force, Florida would become the second state in the United States to decriminalize all drugs. This comes after Oregon passed Measure 110 on November 3, 2020, which downgraded the personal non-commercial possession of controlled substances to a Class E violation — a maximum fine of $100 which can be waived if a person undergoes a health assessment that leads to addiction counseling.  

A bill introduced in the U.S. Congress in June has also proposed an end to criminal penalties on a federal level for the personal use of illegal substances, including Schedule I and II drugs.

To date, other jurisdictions in the United States have adopted less radical drug decriminalization measures, with cities such as Detroit, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. voting for the decriminalization of psychedelics including fungi and plant-based entheogens. 

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