Ron DeSantis blasts Florida’s pot and abortion ballot questions

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"Our choice" sign at the “Bans Off Our Bodies” rally along the downtown waterfront of St. Petersburg, Florida. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (24 June 2022).

©2024 The News Service of Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday lashed out at two proposed constitutional amendments that will appear on the November ballot, three days after the Florida Supreme Court signed off on the measures.

One of the ballot initiatives would enshrine abortion rights in the Constitution and the other would authorize recreational marijuana for people ages 21 and older.

“Once voters figure out how radical both of those are, they’re going to fail. They are very, very extreme,” DeSantis said when asked about the proposals during an appearance in Davie.

The governor criticized the recreational marijuana measure, which will appear as Amendment 3 on the November ballot, calling it the “weed one” and saying it would go beyond decriminalizing marijuana. “It’s basically a license to have it anywhere you want. So no time, place, and manner restrictions. This state will start to smell like marijuana in our cities and towns,” he said.

The recreational marijuana initiative comes after Florida voters in 2016 approved an amendment authorizing medical marijuana. Florida has more than 600 medical marijuana dispensaries scattered throughout the state. “Every part of Florida, not just South Florida, I see marijuana stores. … but do we really need to do more? With that? Do we want to have more marijuana in our communities? I don’t think it’ll work out well, but it is a very, very broad amendment,” DeSantis said.

The Smart & Safe Florida political committee backing the recreational marijuana proposal contends DeSantis is incorrect and that the proposal would allow the state to regulate how, when and where marijuana can be used in public places. The measure also says, “Nothing in this amendment prohibits the Legislature from enacting laws that are consistent with this amendment.”

DeSantis also turned his vitriol on the proposal to “limit government interference with abortion,” which will appear on the ballot as Amendment 4, calling it “very, very extreme in a number of different ways.” DeSantis predicted the amendments will fail. “I think Florida voters over the past, you know, four or five (election) cycles have developed the skepticism on these amendments generally because they’re always written in ways that are confusing. So I think that there’s a certain segment of voters, they default to just vote no on these things,” DeSantis said.

Voters during the past decade, however, have approved high-profile constitutional amendments on issues such as allowing medical marijuana, increasing the minimum wage and restoring voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences.

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