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Chris King to launch tour on criminal justice reform, including plan to legalize marijuana

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King is launching a speech tour Tuesday focusing on his ideas for criminal justice reform, including the legalization of marijuana.

According to sources inside King’s campaign, he will unveil a six-point plan that includes “Reducing Mass Incarceration, Legalizing Marijuana, Restoration of Voting Rights, Ending Private Prisons, Ending the Death Penalty, and Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline.”

King, the Winter Park entrepreneur, will kick it off Tuesday at a noon roundtable at the Enoch Davis Recreation Center in St. Petersburg where he plans to lay out his criminal justice reform platform. He’ll be joined by state Rep. Sean Shaw, the Tampa Democrat running for state Attorney General.

That will be followed by additional stops Tuesday in Dunedin and St. Petersburg, Wednesday in Melbourne, Thursday in Seminole County,  and Saturday in The Villages and Miami.

King had previously said he was not prepared to back the full legalization of marijuana, but his campaign told POLITICO Florida on Tuesday that “King believes the time has come to legalize marijuana for recreational use and tax it.”

Perhaps without irony, King is dubbing the tour “Turning the Tide.” His campaign has left him languishing in deep fourth-place in public opinion polls among Democratic candidates for governor, not much above the polls margins of errors, while he and his campaign have talked about having time to turn things around before the August 28 primary. He’s facing former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the Democrats’ race.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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