Stands Against Recreational Cannabis

Governor DeSantis’ Takes Stand Against Rushed Recreational Marijuana Legislation

Things are heating up in Florida as the conversation surrounding recreational marijuana hits a boiling point. While Governor Ron DeSantis himself may not be on the ballot in November, recreational marijuana in the Sunshine state will be— and he’s taking a firm stance against it for a lot of good reasons.

Back in April, Florida’s Supreme Court approved amendments for both recreational marijuana and abortion rights to hit the November ballot. The cannabis measure would change the constitution and allow current medical dispensaries to start selling up to an ounce of recreational weed to adults 21 or older. Still, the issue seems rushed. The half-baked measure would allow but not require lawmakers to hand out more licenses, but it also doesn’t account for all the other factors that go into a successful recreational program. 

For example, it doesn’t allow for home growing, and it doesn’t have the specifics outlined in a way that makes legalization a clear and straightforward process. As written, the language is nebulous, and the left is on the fence about it with concerns that the state is rushing into something they’re not equipped to manage appropriately. 

DeSantis commented that the amendment would be “not good for families” and “not good for [the] elderly” and encouraged voters to skip over this ballot initiative due to its vague and frankly confusing language.

Seniors Loving Weed Are Embracing Cannabis Faster Than Ever – Read More

“Understand: Your life will be impacted by this. It will change the quality of life in our communities. You will smell it when you’re walking down many of these streets, particularly in our urban areas,” he cautioned.

Sure, this can all be written off as an opinion

Plenty of people live in recreational states that are entirely unbothered by the smell or lack thereof. However, recreational weed does also come with some other unforeseen issues. According to a recent study, urban campers and unhoused individuals increased by 18% from 2015 to 2017 in recreational states. It also tends to attract the wrong kinds of tourists who are unfamiliar with legal cannabis laws and their variations from state to state, often ignoring public consumption laws, traveling with marijuana, and more. 

The public health, crime, and traffic statistics surrounding recreational marijuana in other states are also staggering. 

In Colorado, traffic deaths involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana increased by 109% since legalization. Additionally, emergency department visits related to marijuana increased by 54%. With such relaxed recreational laws, there have been 257 investigations of black market operations resulting in 192 felony arrests, 6 tons of cannabis, and over 60,000 plants seized— all of which were destined for over 25 different states.

Similarly, in California, emergency department visits and admissions for marijuana-related incidents have seen significant spikes since the advent of recreational legalization. From 2016 to 2019, emergency department visits and admissions for any related marijuana use increased by 89%. The black market is still alive and well in California, with an influx of clandestine lab operations. Out of the 194 reported labs, 72.6% were making concentrates. 

And that doesn’t even cover the environmental impact. In 2020, the cannabis industry created an estimated one billion pieces of single-use plastic, much of which ended up in landfills. Researchers estimate over 1.4 million pounds of fertilizers and toxicants are used annually at outdoor marijuana grow sites in California, which has a tendency to seep into the water supply.

WHY 500

Reasons Why DeSantis is so staunchly against legalizing weed

Why would we want to have more? You want to walk down the street here and smell it? Do you want to…not be able to take your family out to dinner because you’re worried about it?” DeSantis said. “Look what’s happened in Denver, Colorado. Look what’s happened in Los Angeles, New York City.” 

He also mentioned that he’s “talked to people that have moved from New York” who tell him that it “reeks of marijuana.”

“I don’t want this state to be reeking of marijuana. We’re doing fine. We don’t need to do that.”

One major pro of legalizing weed is the financial gain. Recreational cannabis indeed creates jobs and stimulates the economy. Economic analysts from the Florida legislature believe that legal weed would bring in around $195.6 million and $431.3 million, though they could be exponentially higher if Florida imposed excise taxes on cannabis purchases. Other states use this tax revenue for things like roads, hospitals, and schools.

Who’s Really Benefiting From Florida’s Cannabis Boom? – Read More

Part of the bigger picture, however, is that a lot of the support for recreational marijuana in Florida is for the cash grab. The Smart & Safe Florida campaign has been pushing for a legal market and has raised over $40 million over the last few years. Almost all of the campaign financing comes from current medical marijuana businesses, which are primarily big businesses operating in multiple states. But it’s main financial backer? Trulieve— Florida’s largest medical marijuana dispensary chain, which contributed $9.225 million in the first quarter.

Another reason DeSantis is so staunchly against legalizing weed is that little detail. Medical dispensaries would be able to sell recreational weed, and it leaves behind the question of who’s really winning with that. Rushing this program to push profit raises a lot of ethical considerations surrounding the cannabis industry, where financial interests may overshadow public health and safety concerns.

“There’s people that will benefit financially if these things pass, and that’s what’s driving this, is the ability for people to line their pockets,” he said. “On the marijuana one, you’re going to have marijuana everywhere.” 

Right now, DeSantis is working towards fundraising to spread the word against recreational marijuana by pushing it through the Republican Party of Florida for campaigning. And honestly, we have to give credit where credit is due. Florida isn’t like the majority of the states with recreational weed, and people here don’t want to deal with an influx of homelessness, child endangerment, black market crime, pollution, attracting the wrong kind of tourists, or people driving while high when I-95 is already such a mess.

"Rushing this program to push profit raises a lot of ethical considerations"

DeSantis’ statements may seem abrasive when taken out of context, but when it comes to your own backyard, I imagine you’d feel the same way with as much information at your disposal about what’s actually going on behind the curtain. On the surface, job creation and tax revenue look like great things, but do we really want our revenues to line the pockets of multi-state operators based in other states? 

The pros and cons of recreational weed are both palpable, but it’s commendable that the Florida government wants to take all the time necessary to ensure that recreational weed is right for Florida, and that the legislature is written in such a way that accounts for the environment, public health, safety, and effective regulation. Instead of rushing things to give the current dispensaries a leg up, it’s good that people are considering all of the ramifications and looking into ways to make it work for the better.

Will Floridians Legalize Adult Use Cannabis in 2024? – Read More 

For recreational marijuana to pass in Florida, a whopping 60% of voters need to approve it. A recent poll from USA Today suggests that right now, only 56% of registered voters and 49% of adults back the idea of going rec. Time will tell what happens in November— for right now, it’s all speculation. However, Florida’s medical marijuana program is considered to be one of the best in the country. If the government continues to think forward about recreational marijuana, we can only hope they take as much time to organize, plan, and allocate resources for recreational as well as they did with the medical program. 

More or less, it isn’t broken— so why fix it?

1 thought on “Governor DeSantis’ Takes Stand Against Rushed Recreational Marijuana Legislation”

  1. I hadn’t really given it much thought. Just legalize it, right? I already have a condition that allows me a medical card and I’m a very infrequent user so this doesn’t really affect me, or do I thought. After reading this I actually completely agree with the governor. Just driving alone would a huge problem. Way too many NY drivers. Those people should NOT be able to drive high lol. Additionally, as an ex-Californian the last thing I wanna see is more homeless bums everywhere. So there it is, keep it medical!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Florida Dispensaries