Former Florida Congressional Candidate: His State’s New Approach to Marijuana

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What does Florida’s latest bill mean for the marijuana debate?

Legalizing marijuana has been one of our nation’s hottest issues for decades.  Some states have already made the use of marijuana legal in one form or another, and many more are debating if they too should join this trend.  What is holding back other states from legalizing it? And for those pushing for “medical” marijuana use, is it really about that or is it about recreational use?

Let’s be honest with each other.  There is no one real solution that will satisfy everyone when it comes to legalizing the use of marijuana.  Depending on the circles you run in, you will hear all kinds of opinions and concerns—from outright legalization to medical use only.

26 states, plus Washington D.C., have passed one form or another of legalized marijuana use.  Florida, being the most recent, just saw Governor Scott sign the bill (SB-8A) (2) on June 23rd of this year, making it legal to use marijuana for medical purposes.

For the most part, half of our states have not passed and signed new marijuana legalization bills.  But what is holding them up?  In short, regulations.

Soon after we started to see the first states pass such laws, like in Colorado, all of the big growers and dispensaries began to claim their piece of real estate in this new industry.  They are spending countless dollars on lobbying efforts, political action committees, and recruiting political candidates who share their agenda.

This is exactly what happened in Florida and why it took them so long to legalize it.  They only did so after both sides of the aisle came together and agreed to expand opportunities for the smaller growers and dispensaries.

But this has become a big business controlled industry already and regulations are allowing the big players to control it.  The moms and pops just don’t have a seat at the table.

While many debate legalized recreational marijuana use versus medical use, we also have the debate over how it should be consumed or used.  In Florida’s newly signed bill (SB-8A), smoking marijuana is prohibited.  The only way you can benefit from marijuana, medically, is through edibles or vaping.  Many are still demanding that they ought to be allowed to smoke it.

In fact, many of these state “medical use only” bills would have been passed years ago if everyone could agree it did not need to be smoked.  For those who have been hurting and waiting for its medical use to be legalized, who do you blame? The hard-nosed, anti-pot legislators or those demanding they include recreational use?

In the end, states are coming around one way or another.  If you are a recreational user and want to live in a state where that is legal, then you have some options.  If you want its medical use only, then there are those states available to you.  And if you want it in non-smoking form, you guessed it, you have options there too.  And that is what is so beautiful about our nation.  We have States rights that allow each state to decide what they want to do.  That is how our founders created us and why it is so important to respect each state’s decision in how they handle this issue.

Expect the marijuana debate to continue on.  There is another debate brewing that involves employment laws and if an employer can terminate an employee if  traces of marijuana are found in the employee’s system.

To smoke or not to smoke, depending on what state you live in today, you decide.

Nick Wukoson sought the Republican nomination to represent Florida's 18th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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