Humor

Hey, Jeb Bush: Marijuana Won't Kill Florida's Tourism

Former governor wants Florida to stay kid-friendly. You know, like Disney World. That's why people shouldn't vote yes on Amendment Two in November. In a statement released yesterday, Dubya's brother put it this way:

"Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire.

See also: Anti-Medical Marijuana Group Insinuates Pot Cookies Will Be Used for Rape

"Allowing large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all of these efforts."

Apparently in his retirement, Bush missed Florida Man's rapid ascent into meme superstardom. Nope -- even though we've got the theme parks, this place has never been known as savory or safe. You wouldn't want Florida Man to babysit your kids.

He also seems to have forgotten about that whole giant Department of Children and Families investigation that the Miami Herald did in March, the one that looked into 477 child deaths since 1998 and called the department's case-management into question.

Oh, and apparently he never read the National Magazine Award-winning story about getting high at Mickey's house.

Come on, dude. Medical marijuana is not going to keep families from hitting the I-4 corridor and checking out Universal Studios. That proverbial RV will be forever sailing toward ye olde nearby outlet malls.

And that's just Central Florida -- land of homogenous suburbs and mediocre chain restaurants. If Jeb Bush thinks the whole state is as kid-friendly as the meticulously controlled environment of a tourist attraction, he's clearly never seen the depraved souls who haunt Miami Beach when the sun goes down.

Of course, Bush didn't cite any numbers to back up his assumption. California legalized Medical Mary Jane in 1996. A chart from the state's tourism board shows that visitors have pretty steadily increased since. That took, like, 15 seconds to Google.

Colorado called California's bet and raised it -- opting to legalize recreational pot this year. Carly Holbrook, who works for the tourism board there, has noticed a similar trend. Yep -- more and more people have been stopping by and spending money in the state since legal weed was brought there in 2000.

Rather than shy away, Colorado politicians are embracing the love: They even have a specialist in charge of promoting "agritourism."

Holbrook finds Bush's claims kind of odd.

"I wouldn't think that it would even influence the tourism experience, because even if you have the card [to] get pot legally, you can't smoke it in public. That's illegal," Holbrook says. "So I'm guessing that it would be the same for Florida and people would have to be smoking in their own homes. So that's something that tourists wouldn't even see."

Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.

Follow Allie Conti on Twitter: @allie_conti



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Allie Conti was a fellow at Miami New Times and a staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach, where her writing won awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. She's now the senior staff writer at Vice and a contributor to the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Atlantic.