Today, June 26th, 2023, marks a significant day in the fight for cannabis decriminalization. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced that despite years of speculation and passionate protests from advocates, he will not take any actions to decriminalize cannabis. DeSantis’ decision sparked controversy among both advocates and opponents of cannabis decriminalization.
1. DeSantis Stands Firm on Cannabis Penalty
Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, is continuing to take a hard stance against marijuana penalties. Though many across the state are advocating for reduced penalties, DeSantis remains firm in his resolve to enforce strict repercussions for cannabis-related misdemeanors and felonies.
This is nothing new for DeSantis, as he has continuously held an adamant attitude against lighter cannabis penalties since entering office. Last year he rejected a push to reduce punishment for minor marijuana possession. He additionally steered clear of efforts to broaden the scope of medical marijuana usage in the state.
Now, with a new legislative session in full swing, DeSantis is once again making a stance on his anti-pot stance. Recently, he asked lawmakers to “think twice” before changing the marijuana laws. His point of view will likely lead to an unwavering commitment to enforce existing cannabis penalties in the state.
Despite his opposition to relaxed cannabis legislation, DeSantis isn’t trying to hinder debate on the subject. In fact, he has encouraged an open conversation on furthering marijuana legalization in the state. For now, though, he is attempting to make it clear that any action on the subject must be done in a bold yet responsible manner.
2. Flawed Logic Behind DeSantis’ Decision?
In February, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that he wouldn’t accept additional refugees in 2020, citing the need to focus on the state’s own residents. It was swiftly met with backlash. Critics argued that it goes against the spirit of immigration and overall, the logic behind the decision is misguided.
His argument is that Florida’s already struggling to support a large population of migrants, so any more would put an unnecessary strain on the state’s resources. However, the crux of this misinterpreted reality is that refugees often bring immense benefits for economic development and rebuilding. To begin with, migrant communities provide a microcosm of creativity and talent. Diverse new voices in the workforce keep companies inventive and open up additional employment opportunities for all.
Moreover, it’s also an undeniable fact that refugees bring in new investments, giving the economy a welcome boost. This process of giving and taking fuels growth, particularly in small towns and rural areas.
Besides, it would be close-minded not to consider the global humanitarian implications of this decision. Quickly shutting the door on these people in dire need of shelter and aid would essentially be turning a blind eye, an immoral and unfavorable move.
In conclusion, Governor DeSantis’ refuge rejection is ultimately shortsighted and more thought should be put into the bigger picture. Not making sound, well-informed decisions now only leaves us to face the consequences later.
3. Removing Prison Sentences for Marijuana: What’s the Real Benefit?
With more than a decade of marijuana laws becoming more lenient across the United States, the discussion of eliminating prison sentences has become a major focal point for reform. From an economic perspective, removing lengthy sentences can save taxpayers a considerable amount of money, but what are the more practical benefits? Here are a few tangible advantages of removing prison sentences for marijuana-related offenses.
- Stronger Families: Studies have shown that removing prison sentences for marijuana can strengthen family dynamics and increase overall well being. When a family member is sentenced to prison for minor marijuana offenses, it can take a toll on the entire family, both financially and emotionally. When prison sentences are reduced or eliminated, imprisonment can be avoided and the entire family can remain intact and healthy.
- Savings: Eliminating long-term imprisonment for minor offenses involving marijuana can yield considerable financial savings for both the state and individual. Studies show the average cost of housing an inmate for a single year is around $35,000, in addition to countless legal expenses. If prison sentences for marijuana are removed, taxpayers would no longer have to bear such a heavy burdeon.
Removing prison sentences for marijuana is more than just an economical decision – it can have a real and lasting impact on families and communities across the United States. With prison sentences for marijuana being taken less seriously than before, removing them can help create a new age of fairness for minor offenses.
4. A New Path Forward? Decriminalizing Cannabis in the Sunshine State
Given the state’s long-held stance on cannabis, the prospect of decriminalizing it in the Sunshine State can seem like a daunting task. But how would a move towards decriminalization actually play out?
For starters, it would mean the state government understanding the need for reform, and acknowledging the fact that there is an imbalance in criminal justice and policing policies. By decriminalizing cannabis, law enforcement will be able to focus on larger issues, while also allowing recreation users of cannabis the benefit of avoiding criminal prosecution.
The following steps could be taken to make this a reality:
- Convince the Florida Legislature to stop criminalizing cannabis as a gateway to expungment for many individuals.
- Encourage police departments to institute reform and create alternative pathways to prosecution, such as civil citations instead of arrests.
- Increase education and public awareneness about the benefits of decriminalization and cannabis reform.
- Remove or reduce the number of criminal penalties associated with cannabis possession and use, and explore non-punitive alternatives.
- Outline clear legislation and regulations to ensure compliance and safety standards are met.
To ensure an equitable and safe transition to decriminalization, more research and evidence-based policymaking will be required. With the support of the public and engagement from the private sector, the Sunshine State could take an important step forward in recognizing the harms associated with criminalizing cannabis, and its potential in helping to create a fairer and more equitable justice system.
And with that, we turn to DeSantis’s opportunity for legacy-defining reform: the decriminalization of cannabis. However, until the government can come to terms on the specifics of the bill, the marijuana use debate looks to remain in the realm of the theoretical. Here’s to hoping that future discussion around decriminalization leads to a result that makes sense for everyone involved.