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DeSantis Claims Florida Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measure Will Let People ‘Bring 20 Joints To An Elementary School’



Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is claiming that if voters approve a marijuana legalization initiative at the ballot this November, people “will be able to bring 20 joints to an elementary school”—and he again complained about the prevalent odor of cannabis that he says would result from the reform.

“Even if you have no interest in marijuana, marijuana will have an interest in you,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday.

In the latest alarmist comments from the governor—who recently launched a political action committee called the “Florida Freedom Fund” to oppose the marijuana proposal—DeSantis said the reform will provide for “no penalties for use or possession, civil, criminal, anything.”

“I think it’s going to be very difficult for businesses to operate without that infringing on them,” he said.

“I think you’re going to see people—you will be able to bring 20 joints to an elementary school,” he asserted, baselessly. “Is that really going to be good for the state of Florida? I don’t think so.”

DeSantis also reprised his claim that, if the marijuana legalization proposal is approved, cities such as Tampa “will smell like marijuana.”

“Like when you go outside, it will [smell] because [the initiative is] written so broadly,” he said. “How the court let that language on the ballot, I will never understand. You read the language, it does not do justice.”

Watch DeSantis’s comment, starting around 1:00:35  into the video below:

“It’s going to be a part of your life. You’re going to smell it. It’s going to be used in places that it shouldn’t be used,” he said. “And that’s just the reality. It is so unbelievably broad, the way it’s written.”

While DeSantis suggested he was confounded by the state Supreme Court’s decision to allow the marijuana measure to make the ballot following Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s (R) constitutional challenge, he previously predicted that exact result while he was running for the Republican presidential nomination.

According to a Fox News poll released last week, two in three Florida voters support the cannabis initiative—with the issue proving more popular than the governor himself. The survey showed majority support for legalization across the political spectrum, too.

Despite his opposition to the marijuana legalization, DeSantis recently vetoed a bill to ban the sale of intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids in his state. The action came amid reporting that the governor planned to block the hemp prohibition legislation in hopes that the industry would return the favor by financially assisting in his effort to defeat the marijuana initiative.

The governor, who predicted voters will reject the marijuana initiative in November, has argued that the state shouldn’t go beyond the existing medical cannabis program and that broader reform would negatively impact the quality of life for Floridians. The Florida Republican Party also formally came out against Amendment 3 last month.

Smart & Safe Florida, the campaign behind the legalization initiative, separately announced in March that it was working to form a coalition of veterans to build voter support for the reform, and the campaign has since formally launched that initiative.

The campaign additionally released an ad last week arguing that cannabis currently available on the state’s illicit market is dangerously unregulated.

Here’s what the Smart & Safe Florida marijuana legalization initiative would accomplish:

  • Adults 21 and older could purchase and possess up to three ounces of cannabis for personal use. The cap for marijuana concentrates would be five grams.
  • Medical cannabis dispensaries could “acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell, and distribute marijuana products and marijuana accessories to adults for personal use.”
  • The legislature would be authorized—but not required—to approve additional entities that are not currently licensed cannabis dispensaries.
  • The initiative specifies that nothing in the proposal prevents the legislature from “enacting laws that are consistent with this amendment.”
  • The amendment further clarifies that nothing about the proposal “changes federal law,” which seems to be an effort to avoid past legal challenges about misleading ballot language.
  • There are no provisions for home cultivation, expungement of prior records or social equity.
  • The measure would take effect six months following approval by voters.

Here’s the full text of the ballot title and summary:

“Allows adults 21 years or older to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption by smoking, ingestion, or otherwise; allows Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers, and other state licensed entities, to acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell, and distribute such products and accessories. Applies to Florida law; does not change, or immunize violations of, federal law. Establishes possession limits for personal use. Allows consistent legislation. Defines terms. Provides effective date.”

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Economic analysts from the Florida legislature and DeSantis’s office, estimate that the marijuana legalization initiative would generate between $195.6 million and $431.3 million in new sales tax revenue annually if voters enact it. Those figures could increase considerably if lawmakers opted to impose an additional excise tax on cannabis transactions that’s similar to the ones in place in other legalized states.

Unlike the governor, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) said in April that he does believe Florida voters will approve the legalization initiative.

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