Medical Marijuana Making Noise In Florida

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

The medical Marijuana issue, which as Joe Biden would say, “Is a big f-ing deal” in Florida, continues to gather strength and support around the state.

The measure to legalize pot, which needed the support of 60 percent of Floridians, was barely defeated at the ballot box in 2014, leading many political insiders to “bet on green” in 2016, if and when the issue makes it onto the ballot.

The controversial issue of legalizing Marijuana in Florida could force Sen. Marco Rubio and former Governor Jeb Bush to take a stand on the issue, possibly even forcing the two to address the question of whether they have ever smoked pot to the media, town hall meetings, and possibly at presidential debates.

With the known fact that Democrat voter turnout increases during presidential elections, any medicinal Marijuana measure that makes it onto the ballot will surely increase Democrat turnout from the usual 4-5% in presidential cycles, to possible 7-10% in 2016.

If this scenario plays out, medicinal Marijuana could prove to be a death blow to the Republican chances to win the White House in 2016, leading many politicos to believe that the Florida legislature should take up the measure during the 2015 legislative session, and avoid having the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, who could possibly be Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, from having to deal with it in a general election.

Former Florida Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, who supports legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, has this to say:

Looking at the 2016 electoral map, there is no room for error for Republicans to recapture the White House. For Republicans, all roads to Pennsylvania Avenue go through the Sunshine State. Allowing medical marijuana on the ballot in 2016 will drive Democratic turnout and will make it virtually impossible for the Republican Presidential candidate to win Florida—and without Florida there is no White House. My Republican friends in the Legislature have to ask themselves one simple question—do you want to wake up the day after Hillary Clinton is elected President knowing you could have prevented it?

Freshman state legislator Dr. Julio Gonzalez (R) believes that “there is a role for medical marijuana,” but says that role is a “narrowly tailored one” that should be “designed to serve the special and unique needs of small number of patients.”

While many in Tallahassee are talking about a push to legalize medicinal marijuana, Gonzalez says that he is not seeing much of an effort to “expand the scope of medical marijuana.”

“I am not seeing much energy in the legislature to expand the scope of medical marijuana this session,” Gonzalez continued. “The impression I am getting is that the legislature is interested in seeing the Charlotte’s web provision play out and in studying the benefits and shortcomings of that legislation before moving forward with any other adjustments to Florida’s laws.”

When it comes to possibly affected the 2016 presidential election, Gonzalez is a bit more cautious, adding that he and his colleagues in the Florida legislature should focus on addressing the needs of Floridians before anything else.

“I don’t think we can predictably foretell how the marijuana issue will affect the upcoming election cycle at this point. Suffice it to say that the sole priority for the legislature ought to be the best interests of the people of Florida and to remain focused on performing the very best service it can for Floridians.”