“Legalize it. Tax it. Use the revenue to fix Florida’s public schools and move us up from 29th in the nation to #1.”
Those words were tweeted by Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum Wednesday when he retweeted an NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt tweet of an NBC News/WSJ poll that showed 60 percent of Americans want to legalize marijuana.
Legalizing marijuana is part of Gillum’s campaign platform as he runs for the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida.
“Chiefly, most people believe it’s time to legalize it,” said Kevin Cate, a communications consultant working with the Gillum campaign. “The mayor believes it can be done responsibly.”
Not legalizing marijuana leaves a lot of potential tax revenue on the table that could be funneled into education, he said.
Continuing to criminalize small amounts puts a lot of young people at risk of being arrested and spending time in jail “by a policy that has not worked in the past, does not work in the present and will not work in the future,” Cate said.
No other candidate for governor has called for full legalization, but at least two support decriminalization, as well as fully implementing the medical marijuana amendment approved by voters in 2016.
Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, who is also a candidate for the Democratic nomination, is more focused on getting the Legislature to follow the will of the voters.
“This discussion is long overdue, and our first priority must be upholding the will of the people and making medical marijuana accessible to those who need it today,” Graham said in a statement released Friday. “Beyond that, Florida should embrace the principle that no young person should go to jail or have their lives ruined over an incident of marijuana use — we can and should decriminalize.”
As mayor of Miami Beach, Democratic candidate Philip Levine decriminalized marijuana. He could not be reached for comment.
Orlando businessman Chris King, who also is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, did not return an email request for comment. Last year he asked for a special legislative session to pass medical marijuana laws that had been approved by voters.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican running for governor, also said he was frustrated by the Legislature’s failure to implement medical marijuana laws.