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Marijuana Isn’t Just a Medicine – And It Never Was


My home state of Florida seems to be on the path to approving recreational marijuana with a ballot proposition in 2024. I don’t know how I feel about it. State voters approved medical marijuana a couple of years after we moved here. But I’ve come to the conclusion that marijuana isn’t just a medicine. I have also realized that it never was.

My recent thoughts about marijuana are not as profound as they might seem. Rather, they are based on a reality that I was fully aware of when Floridians first started debating medical cannabis: the whole medical cannabis push was simply to start the process toward full legalization.

An Unstoppable Train

I look at the marijuana landscape today and see an unstoppable train. That train has been slowed a bit in recent years, but it continues to plow ahead. We are now up to 38 states (and the District of Columbia) with legal medical cannabis programs. Just under two-dozen states also allow recreational marijuana.

The surprising thing is that legal marijuana isn’t restricted to blue and purple states. Even solid red states have gotten on board. Take Utah. Few people would have guessed that the Beehive State would have been anything but the last to approve medical cannabis. Yet that’s exactly what voters did back in 2019.

Here we are in 2023. Salt Lake City residents can walk into Beehive Farmacy and purchase unprocessed flower, cannabis vapes, gummies, and more. Utah residents who live too far from a pharmacy can have the stuff delivered to their doors.

Florida Started That Way, Too

Thinking about Utah brings me back to my own state. Florida started with medical cannabis much the same way Utah did. Our program is not as restrictive as Utah’s, but state lawmakers were originally dead set against recreational marijuana. So were residents. But minds have slowly been changed over the years.

Looking back on the history of marijuana in the Sunshine State makes one thing apparent: the early advocates for medical marijuana were never content to stop there. I know. I read the papers. The ink had barely dried on the medical cannabis proposition before proponents began working on getting a recreational marijuana measure up for a vote.

No doubt it has been a slow go. But with each passing year, they get closer. Even as this post is being written, the 2024 ballot proposition is being prepared to go before the state Supreme Court. Chances are pretty good that the court will approve it. Then proponents will only need to finish gathering the required signatures – which they apparently will have no trouble doing.

Only a Matter of Time

The 2024 ballot proposition may not come to fruition. It might stall in court. Advocates might ultimately fail to secure enough signatures. But if it is not 2024, it will be 2025 or the year after. It’s only a matter of time.

Here’s the thing: I saw this coming. I knew this was the course Florida would take when I voted against the very first medical cannabis proposition way back in 2014. I have since changed my mind about medical cannabis, at least in principle. I still don’t like the way Florida has implemented it.

As for recreational marijuana, I am still not sure how I feel about it. But for the record, I’m not a big fan of alcohol either. What I do know is that marijuana is not just a medicine. And despite advocates using medical cannabis to get a foot in the door, it never has been. Intoxication is what marijuana is all about.

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