Could Florida be next in line to legalize marijuana?

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Washington and Colorado got national attention after voters passed laws in November allowing legalized marijuana smoking for recreational use.

Those new laws are fueling an interest in the topic and push for changes in Florida, starting with marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Local organizations and lawmakers are teaming up on the topic, and the Florida Cannabis Action Network is going to work to in an attempt to change the laws and change how people perceive their members.

 “(It’s) the ‘Cheech and Chong’ image,” said Jodi James of FCAN.

Florida may not be ready to go the way of Washington and Colorado when it comes to marijuana use, but James said the attention those states have brought to the topic could help Florida get onboard with the 18 other states that have medical marijuana laws.

Earlier this year, two Florida law makers proposed bills for medicinal cannabis use. Both bills died in committees but they’re about to return, and Sen. Jeff Clemens is said to be backing one.

Viera resident Nancy Brown thinks Florida is missing out on a major money maker.

“Let's tax it like we do alcohol and bring some revenue in,” she said.

Studies show medical marijuana is a $1.7 billion market nationwide, but not everyone is ready to jump onboard.

 In an email, Florida House of Representatives speaker Steve Crisafulli said, “This is not an issue that I feel the legislature will be focused on."

But some voters think it should be.

“We'll take a conservative approach, obviously, but it's definitely worth looking into,” said Brown.

James believes the governor could have a bill for medicinal marijuana in front of him by July.  

Other lawmakers who spoke to WFTV believe Florida is going in that direction, but they think it will be another five years before a bill is signed.

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