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DeSantis said Florida will have a 'big problem' with weed smell if marijuana law passes

DeSantis voiced concerns around the smell of marijuana smoke becoming prevalent in public places, if the measure passes.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said recreational marijuana is likely on its way to legalization but added that the smell is a "big problem" in legal states.

As the Florida Supreme Court considers allowing a recreational marijuana legalization measure to appear on November’s ballot, DeSantis has stated his opposition to the ballot initiative's language, saying it was too broad and didn't allow for "time, place and manner restrictions."

The Florida Supreme Court has until April 1 to issue a decision that would allow recreational weed legalization to go on the November ballot for a referendum. Here's what we know.

What did Gov. Ron DeSantis say about legal marijuana in Florida?

DeSantis' concerns revolved around the smell of marijuana smoke becoming prevalent in public places.

“I’ve gone to some of these cities that have had this everywhere, it smells, there’s all these things,” DeSantis said. “I don’t want to be able to go walk in front of shops and have this. I don’t want every hotel to really smell.”

“I don’t want all these things. But if you’re saying you can’t regulate it or you can’t limit it — which, that’s how I read that — that could be a big, big problem," he added. Legally, DeSantis worried that the referendum, were it to pass, would prevent the state and its local government from tailoring restrictions on where and when marijuana can be consumed, even allowing it to be smoked near schools.

"It is the broadest language I've ever seen. It seems to supersede any other regulatory regime that we have. People in downtown areas and other communities, this is going to be part of your community," DeSantis said.

What do recreational marijuana supporters say?

Smart and Safe Florida, the group that organized the ballot initiative by getting over a million petition signatures, said DeSantis' read on the ballot language was incorrect.

“We agree with Gov. DeSantis and don't want FL to become like CA and NY where public outdoor smoking is prevalent. This is why we added language giving the FL legislature the authority to limit outdoor and public consumption just like FL does for smoking tobacco products," the group wrote in a social media statement over the weekend.

Florida marijuana law timeline

  • 2014, Compassionate Use Act legalizes low-THC medical cannabis for patients with cancer and epilepsy

  • 2016, Right to Try Act allows full strength marijuana for patients with terminal conditions

  • 2016, Florida Medical marijuana Legalization Initiative referendum passes with 71.3% of the vote, expanding medical marijuana program

  • 2019, Florida legislature reverses bans on smokeable forms of marijuana along with THC vaping under medical marijuana program

  • 2023, Smart and Safe Florida collects over a million petition signatures to put adult personal use of marijuana legalization on 2024 ballot.

Can I get a medical marijuana card in Florida?

Marijuana is currently only legal in Florida for those who have a Medical Marijuana ID Card, which is given to those who have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition.

Medical marijuana cards cost $75 and must be renewed every year within 45 days of the card's expiration for an additional $75 in addition to the potential cost of visiting a physician.

Possession of marijuana under Florida law is still a crime for those without a card. Anyone with 20 grams or less of the drug faces up to a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.


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