Florida voters may have the opportunity to legalize recreational marijuana at the ballot box next year, and a new study may help bolster the advocates’ case.
The study, conducted by New Frontier Data, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank dedicated to providing empirical research on cannabis, suggests that the state could see a significant uptick in jobs over the next several years if pot is legalized.
John Kagia, chief knowledge officer of New Frontier Data, said that if prohibition is lifted, the number of jobs in Florida related to hemp and pot could swell to 128,587 by 2025—a sevenfold increase from the nearly 17,000 cannabis jobs in the state.
Kagia, as quoted by the Miami New Times, that the types of jobs generated by the cannabis industry vary widely, including “lower-skilled labor roles such as trimmers or budtenders, [plus] higher-skilled workers like extraction tech, chemists, and other manufacturers dealing with edibles.”
The study also said that the Sunshine State could claim a 12 percent share of the entire nationwide cannabis market by 2025, which is expected to total almost $30 billion.
Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a measure in 2016 that legalized medical marijuana, but a year later, the state’s Republican governor at the time, Rick Scott, signed a law prohibiting the smoking of cannabis in all forms. That changed earlier this year, when the state’s current governor, Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, signed a law overturning the ban.
“Over 70 percent of Florida voters approved medical marijuana in 2016,” DeSantis said in a statement after signing the law in March. “I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for working with me to ensure the will of the voters is upheld. Now that we have honored our duty to find a legislative solution, I have honored my commitment and filed a joint motion to dismiss the state’s appeal and to vacate the lower court decision which had held the prior law to be unconstitutional.”
Now, there’s a movement afoot to give voters the chance to go a step further and lift the prohibition on recreational use. Two separate groups of advocates are currently circulating petitions to propose a pair of similar questions on the Florida ballot next year. While both proposals would permit any Florida adult 21 or older to possess marijuana and consume it in private, only one would also permit Floridians to also grow cannabis at home.
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