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“That could be a big, big problem,” Recreational pot initiative in Florida faces hurdles as Governor DeSantis voices opposition


Florida – The legal status of recreational marijuana varies significantly around the world and even within countries, such as the United States, where laws differ from state to state. In some states, like California and New York, where recreational pot has been legalized, adults are allowed to purchase and consume cannabis within certain limits. Arguments that legalizing recreational marijuana can cut back on government spending on law enforcement, raise a sizable amount of tax revenue, and end the negative effects of the black market for marijuana have helped the movement toward legalization gain traction in recent years.

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However, the legalization of recreational marijuana also faces opposition in some states, such as Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis recently raised concerns about a citizen initiative that could legalize recreational marijuana in the state. His remarks have sparked a debate about the implications of such a move and the specifics of the proposed constitutional amendment.

"That could be a big, big problem," Recreational pot initiative in Florida faces hurdles as Governor DeSantis voices opposition

Concerns and Clarifications

In a press briefing, Governor DeSantis expressed his apprehensions about the amendment’s language, suggesting it might be too inclusive and could lead to quality-of-life issues. He highlighted concerns that the amendment could prevent any form of regulation or penalty related to marijuana possession or use, even in sensitive areas such as near schools. “I looked at that language and, I mean, it is the broadest language I think I’ve ever seen, basically nobody could ever be regulated or penalized in any way for possessing or using this. I mean, what, you can’t regulate it near a school? You can’t tell people you can’t smoke?” De santis said.

The governor also voiced his concerns about the broader societal impacts, including the odor and visibility of marijuana consumption in public spaces. He remarked on his experiences in cities where marijuana use is prevalent, stating, “I’ve gone to some of these cities that have had this everywhere, it smells, there’s all these things. I don’t want every hotel to really smell. I don’t want all these things, but if you’re saying you can’t regulate it or you can’t limit it — which, that’s how I read that — that could be a big, big problem.”

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However, the campaign behind the initiative, Smart and Safe Florida, addressed the governor’s concerns by highlighting that the amendment indeed allows for legislative measures to limit outdoor and public consumption of marijuana, akin to current regulations on tobacco smoking. This clarification points to a misunderstanding by the Governor regarding the amendment’s content, emphasizing the provision that “nothing in this amendment prohibits the Legislature from enacting laws that are consistent with this amendment.”

The Governor’s Stance on Marijuana

Despite his initial support for medical marijuana use, especially for those with serious health conditions, Governor DeSantis has adopted a more cautious approach toward the legalization of recreational marijuana. Citing the potency of today’s marijuana products and the potential for harmful additives like fentanyl, DeSantis expressed his reservations about fully legalizing the substance. His concerns reflect a broader skepticism about the shift from purely medicinal to recreational use, emphasizing safety and health implications.

DeSantis’s opposition aligns with that of Attorney General Ashley Moody, who has questioned whether the proposed amendment meets the legal requirements for constitutional amendments, particularly the single subject rule. Despite these legal and health concerns, the initiative, if passed, could see the legalization of recreational marijuana by May 2025, pending approval from 60% of voters.

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