Jeb Bush Denounces Medical Marijuana Initiative in Florida

Image: Jeb Bush Denounces Medical Marijuana Initiative in Florida Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. (Mary F. Calvert/Reuters/Landov)

Friday, 15 Aug 2014 08:33 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has slammed the ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana, claiming it will tarnish the state's prestigious reputation as a tourist and retirement mecca.

"Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism, and a desirable place to raise a family or retire," Bush said in a statement, reported the Tampa Bay Times.

"Allowing large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all of these efforts. I believe it is the right of states to decide this issue, and I strongly urge Floridians to vote against Amendment 2 this November."

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Twenty states across the country allow medical marijuana, while several other states including New York are grappling with the issue, along with Washington, D.C. Earlier this year, Colorado became the first state to legalize pot for recreational purposes.

The Florida pot proposal, which was approved by the state's Supreme Court, has gained widespread support and could help Democrats unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is up for re-election in a close midterm race. Scott opposes the initiative, while his Democratic challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist, favors legalization.

Bush, a possible contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, has joined with the Florida Chamber, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida, and the Florida Trucking Association in denouncing the planned constitutional amendment on November's ballot.

"Normally we focus on creating jobs, improving education, and making Florida more competitive, but this is the type of business Florida can do without," Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, told the Times.

"I find it curious that the largest funder of this push to legalize pot is a personal injury trial lawyer firm, yet such measures are overwhelmingly opposed by Florida's medical and law enforcement community. Florida voters are smart, and when the facts are on the table, I believe they will say no to drugs in Florida."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio supports the use of medical marijuana, but only the non-euphoric strains, the Times reported.

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