Florida’s governor’s race is focusing on legalization

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Florida’s governor’s race is focusing on legalization

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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

Legalization is taking a major role in midterm elections across the country, and it’s definitely been an important topic in Florida’s race for governor. Democrat Andrew Gillum has consistently voiced his support for legalization, while his opponent Republican Ron DeSantis has voiced concerns over legalization.

Will the legalization issue be enough to tip the scales?

“Andrew Gillum is not taking a risk in supporting legalization in Florida,” Christopher Cano, executive director of NORML’s central Florida office, told Cannabis News Box. “It is an issue that over 71% of voters chose in adopting medical marijuana and polls show around 60% of Floridians supporting full legal adult use of cannabis. Gillum seems to have the pulse on where the electorate is on this issue.”

Cano said DeSantis continues to flip-flop on the issue of legalization because of pressure from Republican donors. All of that said, Cano does not believe legalization will be the main reason Floridians decide to come out and vote, but it may be a contributing factor.

“Without marijuana specifically on the ballot, it is doubtful that this issue will drive more support than normal to the polls,” Cano said.

There has been much misinformation spread about legalization and cannabis generally within Florida, Cano said, and it’s come from both the long War on Drugs and false statements from political leaders in the state. “The misinformation spread through our Florida derives either from the systemic misinformation prohibitionists have put forward for over 80 years or the powers that be whom blatantly lie to scare the populace over this issue of legal marijuana,” Cano said.

According to Cano, one scare tactic that has been used is elected sheriffs saying that parents might find cannabis edibles in their children’s Halloween candy when they go trick-or-treating. He said this has never been an issue and is unlikely to actually happen.

Law enforcement groups, pharmaceutical groups, and others have all been fighting legalization in Florida. Cano said basically anyone who stands to lose money on legalization is putting money into stopping it from happening.

“There are many unseen faces that represent billions of dollars that will be lost by the disruption that legal cannabis brings to existing markets,” Cano said.

It appears it’s not a major risk for Gillum to be supporting legalization, but it might also not be a deciding factor when it comes to if he is elected. Most Floridians are behind legalization, but they also have many other issues to consider that are currently taking a higher priority.