The Road to Recreational Marijuana in Florida Starts Next Week

Can you picture DeSantis holding a joint in his right hand?
Can you picture DeSantis holding a joint in his right hand?
Photo by Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of South Florida and help keep the future of New Times free.

When Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis takes office next week, the road to marijuana legalization in Florida begins. Two court appeals that could open up the market and the path to smoking the stuff may be undercut — and a petition drive to put recreational pot on the 2020 ballot will gain steam.

An appeals hearing is set for Monday on a decision by former Miami-Dade child advocate and now Tallahassee Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers that would allow medicinal pot smoking in the state. Gievers ruled this past June 5 that legislators violated the will of voters — 71.5 percent of whom approved medicinal pot — by banning smokable weed. But in a court document, state House general counsel Adam Tanenbaum held out the "possibility" the Department of Health will remove itself from the case.

The same day, events begin leading up to DeSantis' swearing-in on Tuesday. His lieutenant governor, Jeanette Núñez, recently told the News Service of Florida the governor might also remove the state from a lawsuit challenging limits on the number of companies involved in the state's marijuana trade. Tallahassee Circuit Court Judge Charles Dodson agreed to overturn a law that capped the number of marijuana licenses and requires marijuana operators to grow, process, and distribute cannabis-related products. But like the smoking ban decision, that ruling is under appeal.

Núñez, a Miamian and the first Latina to take high state office, said DeSantis has a different opinion than present Gov. Rick Scott, who has fought efforts to create a more competitive pot market. The governor-elect, she stated, “has said he’s not interested in continuing that fight... I think he has a different perspective than Gov. Scott. I think he wants the will of the voters to be implemented.”

Most interesting in the long term, the push to get recreational pot on the 2020 ballot is gaining steam. Tampa attorney John Morgan, one of the most important architects of the state's medical marijuana movement, has said he will press the measure before voters in 2020, when Democrats are likely to show up in force. On Wednesday, he tweeted that the effort is underway.

A similar effort to get a bill on the ballot in 2018 fizzled. That failure may well have been a key to Democrats' pathetic showing in the election. Despite a Democratic majority in the state, Republicans held the state House and Senate as well as the governor's seat.

Presently ten states and the District of Columbia allow recreational marijuana. Thirty-three, including Florida, allow medicinal pot.

So let's light up, already.

Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in South Florida.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in South Florida.