The world is an increasingly divided place. Especially on the political front. However, there is one issue that could bring republicans and democrats to the table to bring about lasting change for society. The bottom line is that there is support (and opposition) on both sides of the political aisle when it comes to cannabis legalization. There are also calls from those of more libertarian persuasions to tell the government to get out of the way altogether when it comes to marijuana.
That doesn’t mean it’s smooth going on all sides of the political aisle. More importantly, for the state of Florida, representatives Matt Gaetz and Brian Mast have shown interest in a federal policy that would, at the very least, decriminalize the use of marijuana. Doing so on the federal level would pave the way for more states to take similar actions. This is especially true of states that prefer to “save their battles” with the federal government for other priorities.
However, the GOP push for the decriminalization of marijuana is not backed by the promise of higher taxes and regulations. Instead, it is made with impassioned pleas from veterans suffering from PTSD and mothers who have children who need the comfort medicinal CBD and THC treatments offer children with debilitating and painful medical conditions.
It is also fostered without visions of additional tax revenues and substantial dollar signs in the future. Instead, Republicans are interested in lower taxes and regulations than democrats are calling for when it comes to legalizing marijuana, according to the Politico article.
As of now, Florida dispensaries can only offer medically prescribed marijuana to patients. With the new push from GOP representatives in Washington, hope is alive that Washington might find something to agree on despite the heavily divisive nature of things. Marijuana has a way of bringing out the best in people and making everyone a little friendlier and more open and accepting. Perhaps it can have a similar effect in Washington.
More importantly, voters on all sides of the political spectrum support legalizing marijuana, at least medicinally, if not completely. This is the broadest amount of support the legalization effort has had since its inception with veterans’ groups, parent groups, and others leading the way. While there remains some concern over the long-term health consequences of doing so, legalization also paves the way for broader studies that universities and other research groups have been unable to conduct in the past. In fact, a November 2021 Gallup poll reveals American support for marijuana legalization remains at a two-year high of 68 percent. Even more revealing in this poll was the strong support among those who consider themselves religious and conservative. In other words, support is fairly universal among all political groups.
In Florida, the issue is a little more personal to many of the residents. With Florida second only to California when it comes to citizens over the age of 65, it is no surprise that more older adults are using marijuana than at any other time in history. Many of them for the first time in their lives. Many are turning to marijuana for relief from chronic pain, to help recover from pain after surgery, to help them sleep, and even to deal with nausea related to cancer treatments.
The only problem is that they must see a doctor, obtain a prescription, and then apply for and receive a medical marijuana card in order to gain access to the medications that provide relief. The good news, though, is that Florida dispensaries offer many more avenues for using marijuana that does not require smoking it. Something many people find distasteful or unpleasant. Available options include things like gummies, baked goods, tinctures, sprays, and inhalants. There is also the cost factor that makes getting medical marijuana prohibitive for many Floridians. That is something wholesale legalization would eliminate, leaving residents to enjoy the medical benefits without paying more than is necessary to do so.
With voters and political leaders on both sides of the aisle supporting the idea of wider federal legalization of marijuana, perhaps we are at the juncture in history where things could change for the better. Legalizing marijuana and decriminalizing its use can open doors for many people who have, for many years, been held back by the stigma associated with marijuana use.
It might help to remove criminal records related to marijuana use opening the door for greater economic opportunities. Other economic opportunities exist in the field of producing and dispensing marijuana as well. Can you imagine the uptick in demand from Florida dispensaries and growers if the federal government declared marijuana completely legal? Plus, there is the public health interest that legalizing THC and its many medicinal uses the wider public can enjoy.