Florida’s cannabis industry is growing rapidly and gaining momentum. But as is the case in many U.S. states, this positive evolution is coming in spite of the politicians – not because of them.
First, the numbers.
- Legal cannabis sales are projected to grow at a 6 percent rate over the next 5 years, equally an increase of $1.3 billion in revenues
- This would take the total size of Florida’s legal cannabis industry to $2 billion per year
- Medicinal cannabis sales were estimated at $626 million in 2018
- A majority of Florida voters (56 percent) now support full legalization, and 80% support medicinal use
Grassroots legalization efforts failed to get cannabis legalization on the ballot for the 2018 election. However, organizers are more confident heading into the 2020 election cycle.
Then there are the politicians.
While Florida’s legal cannabis companies are busy building an industry and Florida’s residents are busy working toward legalization, what are the politicians doing?
They are wasting considerable time, effort and taxpayer dollars refining their cannabis Prohibition laws.
- Banning cannabis smoking in state parks. There is no evidence that cannabis smoking itself is harmful, let alone second-hand cannabis smoke. But state legislators feel the need to waste their time banning outdoor smoking of cannabis?
- Relaxing minimum sentences for “marijuana crimes”. As most Americans now clearly understand, the only “crime” about cannabis is Prohibition itself. While enlightened politicians are legalizing cannabis and expunging convictions, Florida representatives are wasting time in reducing penalties for a non-crime.
- Amending criminal penalties. Same as above.
The only clearly positive move being contemplated by Florida’s state government is the proposal to allow more businesses to sell medicinal cannabis and edibles.
The health issues arising from tainted vapes are yet another unwanted consequence of cannabis Prohibition. However, it provides politicians with not only justification but political cover to legalize cannabis now: as a matter of public safety.
Instead, like most state governments, Florida’s politicians are taking the cowardly way out. They are waiting for their own voters to force them to do the right thing.
Of note, while Florida’s cannabis industry is projecting a 6% growth rate over the next five years, overall, U.S. cannabis sales are projected to triple by 2023.
This means that while legalized cannabis is gaining momentum in Florida and reaching a considerable mass (because of the state’s large population), Florida is still a laggard in the overall growth of the cannabis industry in the United States.
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