Florida might finally legalize weed to save its economy

Published Mar 8, 2021 01:00 p.m. ET
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The infamous retirement state might soon join the ranks as a cannabis-friendly region, but it may happen faster than many initially anticipated due to the financial crisis the sunshine state is facing. Florida has all different types of allures to draw people in, from the gorgeous temperatures and lack of snow to the world-famous magical land of Disneyworld.

Despite the wide range of enticing tourist attractions, you won’t find a single recreational dispensary in Florida, and that’s a problem that some consumers and lawmakers in the area are thinking about addressing in hopes of cashing in on what could soon be a lucrative new industry.

Florida medical marijuana access

Medicinal patients in this state must seek out a doctor-approved prescription. Once approved, customers are usually restricted to a single medical marijuana dispensary for supply, as only state-approved stores are allowed to operate here. It’s not a difficult process, but it can be a costly one, leaving the option off the table and just out of reach due to a lack of affordability for those who need it most. Still, Florida brings in a steady revenue from the program, which was enough to give politicians a taste of what this industry could do.

A terrible state of affairs

Florida is in the middle of a budget crisis, a problem that was only further exacerbated by the arrival of the pandemic, which forced millions of businesses to close to the public. Thousands of small businesses across the region were left so devastated by emergency orders and social distancing measures that they were forced to shutter permanently, a trend that isn’t believed to be over just yet.

Even if the virus was to disappear tomorrow and no new disasters were to arise, the state would still be left with the remnants of this storm, a reality that’s forcing lawmakers and politicians to consider all available options including legalizing cannabis. For many, it’s not quite the ideal solution, but there is no arguing with the fact that the idea could work.

How legalization could help

If Florida were to legalize weed, it could reduce the amount of money spent each year prosecuting minor marijuana cases, an adjustment that could save the state a cool $25.5 million within 12 months. Now, if that doesn’t sound like a big enough number to sell the idea, then you should also know that it’s chump change in comparison to the estimated $120 million in new tax revenue which could be made by legalizing adult-use cannabis for recreational purposes.

The opposition

Though, as proven through multiple surveys and polls, most Floridians want to legalize weed, there are some loud staunch opposers of the movement, including Speakers of The House Chris Sprowlsas well as Governor Ron DeSantis who believe that legalization would only harm American children while increasing the risk of addiction. Of course, most evidence clearly proves that cannabis is not a gateway type drug as once believed, especially once it’s made legal, but these lawmakers do have a large number of supporters.

Those who support it

There is more than enough support from various experts and politicians on the matter to give it a good chance of being passed, most notable being Florida’s Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is advocating for the change by assuring those who are concerned that the utmost care would be taken to ensure the safety of children. The argument being that such strict rules could be implemented and enforced that legalization could actually decrease teen use as well as access to cannabis products, something that could theoretically make them safer in the long run.

Multiple adult-use bills in play

At the time of writing this article there are several bills being considered, and even if not a single one were to make it anywhere, a result that is highly unlikely, the Supreme Court is also trying to make it so that voters can decide for themselves. No matter how it passes, Florida is unequivocally looking to legalize weed and fast, and who can blame them? It could be a solution for many of the world's financial problems once we finally move past this unprecedented time in history.

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