Democratic Candidates for Florida Governor Vow to Legalize Marijuana

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate and congressman Representative Charlie Crist announced on Thursday that he will legalize marijuana and expunge past cannabis-related convictions if he is elected governor. The statement drew a swift response from fellow Democratic candidate and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, however, who chided Crist for his past support of cannabis prohibition.

At an appearance at the state capitol in Tallahassee, Crist, who served as Florida’s governor as a Republican from 2007 to 2011, said that he would legalize marijuana if voters elect him to the office again next year. He also vowed to expunge convictions for cannabis-related misdemeanors and third-degree felonies.

“Let me be clear: If I’m elected governor, I will legalize marijuana in the Sunshine State,” Crist said in a video posted on Twitter on Thursday. “This is the first part of the Crist contract with Florida.”

Crist also said on Thursday that under his legalization proposal, taxes from sales of regulated marijuana would be used to fund law enforcement agencies, more teachers for the state’s schools and drug diversion and treatment programs. The plan also supports allowing home cultivation of up to six cannabis plants and reforming the state’s current marijuana industry by decentralizing it and making it more accessible to farmers who are people of color. 

But Crist has been a late adopter of cannabis policy reform. While serving as Florida’s Republican governor, Crist signed legislation to make cultivation of 25 or more cannabis plants a second-degree felony, lowering the threshold from 300. In 2008, he said that he approved of Florida’s harsh drug laws and opposed efforts at reform.

After leaving the Florida governor’s mansion, Crist announced in 2012 that he had joined the Democratic Party. In 2014, he secured the Democratic nomination for governor but was defeated in the general election. He then ran for the U.S. House, where he has served as the representative for Florida’s 13th Congressional District since 2016. 

He has since voiced public support for cannabis reform and last year voted in favor of the MORE Act, a bill to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level that later died in the U.S. Senate.

“We know that people across racial and income levels use marijuana at the same rate. And yet, for decades, it’s been poor, Black and/or Hispanic folks targeted for prison on marijuana charges,” Crist said in a December statement in support of the MORE Act. “That tells me that marijuana has been legal now for a while if you had the right skin tone or the right paycheck.”

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Democratic Crist Has Changed His Mind on Cannabis

After Crist made his announcement in support of cannabis reform, Fried, his opponent for the Democratic nomination for governor, called attention to Crist’s record on marijuana as governor.

Fried has long been a supporter of cannabis legalization and announced earlier this year that she is a registered Florida medical marijuana patient. She has also worked as a lobbyist for the cannabis industry and is an investor in a licensed medical marijuana treatment center in the state, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“Imitation is flattery, but records are records,” Fried wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “People went to jail because Republicans like @CharlieCrist supported and enforced racist marijuana crime bills. Glad he’s changed his mind, but none of those people get those years back. Legalize marijuana.”

Drew Godinich, a spokesperson for the Fried for Governor campaign, also attacked Crist’s record on cannabis reform.

“Floridians deserve a new generation of leaders who will reform our broken criminal justice system and for a consistent, just marijuana policy,” Godinich wrote in a tweet.

“That’s what Nikki Fried has done as Agricultural Commissioner, and that’s what she’ll continue to do as Governor. Charlie now says he is [in] favor of reform—but has nothing to say for his record of decades in Tallahassee where he consistently favored harsh laws to punish Floridians. We need change, now.”

In his statement on Thursday, Crist acknowledged that, like many people, his stance on marijuana has changed over time. 

“And for me, it’s personal,” Crist said. “I lost an older sister. She had brain cancer several years ago. And I think about Margaret, and I think about how it wouldn’t have been as painful for her perhaps if marijuana had been legalized and the stigma taken off of it.”

Crist’s proposal to legalize marijuana is part of his four-point “Justice for All” plan to reform the state’s justice system, which he says has disproportionately impacted non-white Floridians. He also supports a sentencing reform plan, restoring voting rights to those with nonviolent felony convictions and legislation to give inmates rehabilitation credit for taking educational and life-skills classes.

The winner of the Democratic nomination for Florida governor will face current Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in next year’s general election. DeSantis is opposed to cannabis reform and said, “Not while I’m governor” when asked about marijuana legalization in 2019.

The post Democratic Candidates for Florida Governor Vow to Legalize Marijuana appeared first on High Times.

Florida Advocacy Petition Drive Aims to Allow Home Growing of Cannabis

A political action committee in Florida is spearheading a petition drive to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana in the state, after two previous legalization efforts this year were stymied by the courts. 

Sensible Florida PAC announced on Friday that it was kicking off “a new petition drive for a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution that will permit adults 21 and older to grow and use marijuana.”

The group said it has initiated “an aggressive campaign” in order to get the proposal on next year’s ballot. 

The timing of the petition drive may strike some as unusual, and the prospects of qualifying for the 2022 ballot might seem dim.

Cannabis Progress Previously Halted in Florida

In June, a different constitutional amendment proposed by Sensible Florida was ruled unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court. A majority of the justices took issue with the proposed amendment’s language, particularly the portion that said marijuana would be legalized “for limited use and growing by persons 21 years of age or older,” saying it was “misleading.”

“As an initial matter, the initiative’s ‘age limit’ is clearly not the “limited use” contemplated by the ballot summary,” the majority opinion said. “Indeed, the summary tells voters that the measure will regulate marijuana ‘for limited use… by persons 21 years of age or older.’ The summary thus informs voters that the initiative imposes use limitations on age-eligible persons, not that the age limitation is itself a ‘use’ limitation. 

“Secondly, ‘use’ cannot be synonymous with ‘possession,’ ‘growing,’ or ‘gifting.’ Indeed, the initiative separately addresses those activities… The Sponsor’s inability to point to anything in the text of the measure that could credibly support the ‘limited use’ language in the summary leaves no doubt that the summary is affirmatively misleading.”

“We conclude that the language in the ballot summary indicating that the proposed amendment “regulates marijuana … for limited use … by persons 21 years of age or older” is affirmatively misleading and fails to comply with section 101.161(1), Florida Statutes,” the opinion continued. “Accordingly, the proposed amendment should not be placed on the ballot.”

Sensible Florida said at the time that it would go back to the drawing board and offer up a new amendment with the intention of qualifying for next year’s ballot. But for legalization advocates in the Sunshine State, the June ruling by the state Supreme Court was all too familiar. In April, the court struck down a different ballot measure that aimed to legalize recreational pot use in the state, saying that proposal’s language was also misleading.

In that decision, the court specifically took issue with the notion that the measure would not change federal law against marijuana.

“A constitutional amendment cannot unequivocally ‘permit’ or authorize conduct that is criminalized under federal law,” Chief Justice Charles Canady wrote. “A ballot summary suggesting otherwise is affirmatively misleading.”

The challenges to each proposal were backed by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican. 

“We thank the Florida Supreme Court for their time and attention to this issue and respect their ruling,” a Moody spokesperson said after the state Supreme Court’s ruling in April. “Floridians must fully understand what they are voting on when they go to the ballot box.”

Other Florida politicians were upset by the decisions. Congressman Charlie Crist, who previously served as governor of the state, lamented June’s ruling and laid blame on Florida’s current governor, Republican Ron DeSantis.

“The Florida Supreme Court that @GovRonDeSantis packed with partisan judges just denied another ballot initiative to let Floridians vote on legalizing marijuana. This is wrong. Legalization should be up to the people of Florida,” Crist tweeted at the time.

The post Florida Advocacy Petition Drive Aims to Allow Home Growing of Cannabis appeared first on High Times.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, April 27, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Advocates Float New Strategy To Pass Marijuana Legalization In Senate With Democratic Support In Question (Marijuana Moment)

// Montana House Revives Bill To Implement Marijuana Legalization After First Defeating It (Marijuana Moment (Daily Montanan))

// Drug Possession To Be A Misdemeanor- For Now- Under Washington State Bill Headed To Governor’s Desk (Marijuana Moment)


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// These states could still legalize recreational or medical cannabis in 2021 (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Pennsylvania Marijuana Poll Shows Highest-Ever Support For Legalization (Marijuana Moment)

// Harborside Q4 Net Revenue Increases 11% to $12.6 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Auxly Revenue Keeps Rising But Losses Remain (Green Market Report)

// After hitting record numbers during the pandemic’s peak new medical marijuana patients are surging again in Florida (Yahoo News (South Florida Sun-Sentinel))

// Peoples-Stokes hosts Buffalo marijuana expungement clinic (WGRZ 2 NBC)

// New York’s Native American communities eye recreational cannabis (Marijuana Business Daily)

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How To Find A Florida Medical Marijuana Doctor

The marijuana industry has only become stronger in the last couple of years. It’s amazing to imagine just how big the steps the industry has been taking recently. If you think about it years ago, it felt impossible that people will eventually embrace the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Now, getting medical marijuana is […]

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Thursday, April 8, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Thursday, April 8, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Virginia moves cannabis legalization to July 1 2021 (Leafly (AP))

// Investigators in Matt Gaetz inquiry looking into Bahamas travel sources say (NBC News)

// Alabama House Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill Already Passed The Senate (Marijuana Moment)


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// South Carolina Senator Threatens To Block ‘Every Single Other Bill’ If Medical Marijuana Doesn’t Get A Vote (Marijuana Moment)

// Green Thumb poised to build out $50 million cannabis facility in New York (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Denver discusses permanently allowing drive-thru walk-up dispensary sales (Denver Channel 7 ABC)

// States Keep Repeating the Same Mistake With Marijuana Legalization (Slate)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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