Gov. DeSantis expects voters to decide on cannabis legalization

Cbd Concept, Medical Marijuana, cannabis and blue background
'It'll be on the ballot.'

Gov. Ron DeSantis is not an advocate for legalized marijuana, but he said voters in his state likely will get a chance to vote on that this year.

“I think the (Florida Supreme Court) is going to approve that, so it’ll be on the ballot,” DeSantis said, as reported by Marijuana Moment.

The Adult Personal Use of Marijuana citizen initiative that could lead to a constitutional amendment for voter consideration, with legalization in effect as soon as May 2025 if 60% or more of voters approve.

If the court allows Florida voters to weigh in, it will be over the objections of the state’s top cop.

Attorney General Ashley Moody has cited law requiring constitutional amendments to touch on just a single subject, and expressed doubt whether this one complies with all technical requirements of state law.

Smart & Safe Florida already has more than a million verified signatures, meeting the threshold needed for ballot inclusion should the Supreme Court back its position. The committee has raised more than $40 million, almost entirely from Trulieve, the leading dispensary chain in the state in terms of number of storefronts.

DeSantis has said he opposes legalization for a variety of reasons, including saying today’s product is “too potent” and that dealers can “throw fentanyl in” while on the campaign trail last year during his presidential campaign.

Early in his first term in office, DeSantis pleased reformers when he came out against the Rick Scott-era opposition to cannabis that could be smoked. Previously, loose flower was not available, with only vaporizer cups for sale at dispensaries.

“I look at someone who has Lou Gehrig’s disease or terminal cancer or multiple sclerosis … I think the Florida voters who voted for that wanted them to have access to medical marijuana under the supervision of a physician. Whether they have to smoke it or not, who am I to judge that?” DeSantis said. “I want people to have their suffering relieved. I don’t think this law is up to snuff.”

However, the Governor has taken a harder line against marijuana in recent years.

“If you look at some of the stuff that’s now coming down, there’s a lot of really bad things in it. It’s not necessarily what you would’ve had 30 years ago when someone’s in college and they’re doing something. You have some really, really bad stuff in there, so I think having the ability to identify that, I think, that’s safety, and quite frankly when you get into some of that stuff, it’s not medicinal at that point for sure,” DeSantis said, in response to a reporter’s question in 2021.

In 2022, the Governor took an even harder line position against so-called “recreational” use.

“What I don’t like about it is if you go to some of these places that have done it, the stench when you’re out there, I mean, it smells so putrid,” he told reporters. “I could not believe the pungent odor that you would see in some of these places. I don’t want to see that here. I want people to be able to breathe freely.”

Despite these qualms, it appears the Governor has made his peace with voters deciding on this one.

Polling last Spring by Mason-Dixon suggests the amendment would have 50% support on the ballot, a number which would ensure it falls far short of ratification.

However, other surveys indicate support well above the 60% threshold for passage. Notably, a March poll conducted by the University of North Florida found 70% of Floridians either “strongly” or “somewhat” support legalizing recreational use for people over 21, with 29% either “strongly” or “somewhat” opposed. In November, 67% of respondents said they backed the citizens’ initiative.

Given that the vote would happen on a presidential General Election ballot, it’s all but assured that turnout will be juiced compared to that of most off-year election cycles. Meanwhile, with President Joe Biden expected to reschedule cannabis, reform may be in the air in Florida voting booths as well.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Brian Kelly

    January 22, 2024 at 2:21 pm

    Legalize federally now. What’s legal to possess and consume in over half of the populated areas of The United States should not make you a criminal in states still being governed by woefully ignorant prohibitionist politicians.

    Cannabis consumers in all states deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Nationwide Federally Now!

    It’s time for us, the majority of The People to take back control of our national cannabis policy. By voting OUT of office any and all politicians who very publicly and vocally admit to having an anti-cannabis, prohibitionist agenda! Time to vote’em all OUT of office. Period. Plain and simple.

    Politicians who continue to demonize Cannabis, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Cannabis possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through cannabis home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose cannabis, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

    The People have spoken! Get on-board with Cannabis Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

    What we certainly don’t need are anymore people who feel justified in appointing themselves to be self-deputized morality police.

    We are very capable of choosing for ourselves if we want to consume cannabis, a far less dangerous choice over alcohol, and we definitely don’t need anyone dictating how we should live our own lives.

    We can’t just lock up everyone who does things prohibitionists don’t personally approve of.

    The “War on Cannabis” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

    Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our yearly tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Cannabis”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. Especially now, due to Covid-19. It’s a no brainer.

    The Prohibition of Cannabis has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records. Especially, if they happen to be of the “wrong” skin color or they happen to be from the “wrong” neighborhood. Which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

    Cannabis is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

    Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

    The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less cannabis “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

    Cannabis Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide Federally Now! Support Each and Every Cannabis Legalization Initiative!

    “Cannabis is 114 times safer than drinking alcohol”

    “Cannabis may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say”

    “Cannabis may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say New study: We should stop fighting Cannabis legalization and focus on alcohol and tobacco instead By Christopher Ingraham February 23

    Compared with other recreational drugs — including alcohol — Cannabis may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.

    Those are the top-line findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.”
    -Washington Post

    “The report discovered that Cannabis is 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Researchers were able to determine this by comparing the lethal doses with the amount of typical use. Through this approach, Cannabis had the lowest mortality risk to users out of all the drugs they studied. In fact—because the numbers were crossed with typical daily use—Cannabis is the only drug that tested as “low risk.”

    • Chuck

      January 23, 2024 at 1:55 pm


  • Dont Say FLA

    January 22, 2024 at 2:25 pm

    If Assley just doesn’t like the wording, she would sue to change the wording, wouldn’t she. Instead she’s suing in an attempt to keep it off the ballot. Assley, your slip is showing. We can all see it.

    • Nancy Johnson

      January 22, 2024 at 6:35 pm

      I will sign a big fat yes on cannabis I’m a senior on fixed income this medical law is BS to make me find a specific Dr. and pay that person to is over kill and regular people in todays economy on a fixed income and elderly no insurance we can’t afford that.

  • Dr. Franklin Waters

    January 22, 2024 at 3:20 pm

    The only major difference legalization in Florida will make is that the state will earn a lot more tax revenue from it. It’s legal for recreational purposes in more than half the country now, and anybody who wants it just calling up their buddy or family member in another state and having it sent down here via the good old US Postal Service. And then that other state gets to keep the proceeds.

    • MH/Duuuval

      January 22, 2024 at 10:14 pm

      Folks have been known to grow their own …

  • It's Complicated

    January 22, 2024 at 5:41 pm

    The Brookings Institute did an excellent paper on marijuana and why rescheduling only goes so far. Congress needs to step up and bravely fix it, including a change in the criteria for Schedule I, which currently reads:
    1) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
    2) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S.
    3) It has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

    The paper covers it, but part of the problem is you cannot readily a study a substance that the law says has no legitimate use; you cannot develop accepted safety protocols if you cannot study it; the notion of “abuse” has grown subjective in that one man’s abuse is another’s relief from suffering. (They may want to include mushrooms in their definition change, too, because nano doses are effective against depression)

  • Common Sense

    January 23, 2024 at 9:58 am

    Florida is divided into three groups. The first group consists of lawyers, lobbyists and pot profiteers (including certain profiteering pot doctors) who make millions by promoting a drug, the second group consists of stoners who cannot deal with reality and the third group are those who realize the mental health hazards of marijuana, especially that of causing psychosis and other long term effects in teenagers and emerging deleterious effects in the elderly. The tens of millions being pumped into the pro pot initiative by Truleive speaks for itself. Weed makes users stupid and unable to cope with reality. We are already seeing regrets in states such as Oregon. Legalizing pot is dangerous political pandering and the result will weaken the fabric of our society.

    • Common Sense, isn't.

      January 23, 2024 at 10:23 am

      This is all pure nonsensical and ignorant BS. 😂

    • Chuck

      January 23, 2024 at 1:59 pm

      Well, alcohol makes people stupid as well! And was illegal, not it’s legal and glorified by society! I don’t need a politician or another human being telling me what to consume in my body, It’s a natural plant given to us from GOD! Nuff said!

    • Dr. Franklin Waters

      January 23, 2024 at 9:04 pm

      This is one of the funniest, yet most out of touch things i’ve read in a while.

      You would be absolutely astounded if you knew how common and prevalent weed was around you, and how many people you personally know; friends, family, co-workers, people you see at church, even teachers, etc, who use cannabis.

      Your “stoners who cannot deal with reality” and “weed makes you stupid” arguments are at least 50 years out of date. It’s like everything you think you know about weed is from some “Reefer Madness” propaganda film.

  • tom palmer

    January 23, 2024 at 4:53 pm

    Ashley Moody is such a pathetic political hack, it is hard to take anything she says seriously.

Comments are closed.


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