Walmart, Walgreens & Weed In The Sunshine State

Now that the end is near for a pesky, topsy-turvy presidential primary season, it’s time to move on to more important, less insane questions like whether Florida should regulate marijuana. Florida voters overwhelmingly support a constitutional amendment that would allow medical marijuana to be accessed by patients with a wide range of conditions, such as cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. The recent Quinnipiac University poll states, “Support is over 70 percent among every party, gender, education, age and ethnic group measured.”

Amendment 2 is poised to pass, especially during a presidential election year that tends to bring out a greater percentage of left-leaning voters. (It was first on the ballot in 2014 and failed to pass the 60% margin by a mere 2%.) Of course, if the GOP truly cared about the millennial vote, they would use the marijuana issue to demonstrate that the Republican Party is, in fact, a political party of limited government.

In 2014, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson poured millions into the fight against legalizing medical marijuana in Florida, and he will likely do it again. Why should residents of other states, i.e., Sheldon Adelson, chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and a Nevada resident, put money into political campaigns in states where they do not live? It’s the American dream with a side of alien that proves the anti-pot campaign isn’t really about the people; it’s about political cash.

Opponents of Florida’s medical marijuana amendment have fired up a new round of attacks, claiming there will be a dispensary on practically every corner if voters approve the initiative. In a three-minute ad recently released, the group Vote No On 2 says should the measure pass, it’s likely that places to buy medical marijuana will outnumber the land of Big Pharma, also known as Walmart and Walgreens. “Looks like Amendment 2 will put almost 2,000 pot shops in Florida … more pot shops than Walmart and Walgreens combined,” the video exclaims.

Why do we even care if pot shops surpass Walmarts and Walgreens? This is a faux controversy if ever there was one. Since the anti-pot crusade brought it up, wouldn’t people much prefer the local jobs be at a publically licensed, state regulated, and locally funded company? All of the money from Florida marijuana stays in the Sunshine State whereas Walmart goes to Arkansas, the land of the morally righteous Duggars from TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting.

Here is the bigger silver lining for those concerned about too much marijuana: If Amendment 2 passes, the State of Florida will create a regulatory environment, and it will decide just how many pot shops will exist. The location of where a cannabis business can operate is within the sole authority of the regulatory board and by the county in which it is located. The proposed amendment leaves the details of medical marijuana regulations up to the Legislature and the Florida Health Department. In essence, there could be as few or as many dispensaries as the state wants.

The great news is that Amendment 2 barely failed and baby boomers that may have experimented with pot previously might be more amenable to using cannabis as a treatment for ailments as they age. But advocates in the Sunshine State must be careful: Opponents are likely to pour mammoth amounts of money into Florida to try to defeat the initiative.