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Marijuana Legalization Will Destroy the Sunshine State

If liberal groups succeed in getting marijuana legalized in Florida, all sorts of crime will spike as drug users and drug dealers invade the state by the hordes, writes Frank McNulty and Jeff Hunt.

Freedom and common sense are flourishing in Florida. Thanks to smart leaders acting on a clear commitment to implementing a conservative and free market agenda, Florida has become America’s undisputed land of opportunity.

In large numbers, Americans are leaving states captured by far-Left progressive radicalism – states like New York, California, Washington, and Colorado – and are moving to Florida. It’s a remarkable thing to behold. The American people are voting with their feet, and they are choosing common sense conservatism over liberal extremism – they are choosing states like Florida over our home, Colorado – a state that has gambled on Left-wing social change and lost.

Conservatives in Florida should feel good about all they have accomplished. These political victories were hard-won, we know that. But this piece should be seen as a cautionary tale:  if we know anything about the far-Left in this country, it is that they will not take defeat lying down. Progressive organizations awash in campaign cash will fight back.

Indeed, there is evidence that liberal and progressive organizations are using the same playbook in Florida that they have used in other states to lay the groundwork for a political comeback in the Sunshine State. Florida conservatives should take notice and crush these efforts in their political cradle.

One such effort is the attempt to legalize marijuana in Florida. Liberal organizations and drug legalization advocates recently funded massive efforts to put marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2024.

Think you have heard all there is to hear about marijuana legalization? Think again. We have had a front-row seat to this cultural and political experiment in Colorado and have watched liberals and Democrats leveraging drug legalization to pursue a wide range of other political objectives.

Liberal and progressive organizations use marijuana policy as the tip of the spear to drive political change that favors Democrats. It is an opening salvo in the Left’s long game aimed at legalizing other drugs, weakening sentencing on all types of crimes (including violent ones), closing prisons and promoting an anti-law and order agenda.

If you don’t want Florida to look like Portland, Seattle, San Francisco or Denver, keep reading – the fight over marijuana legalization in Florida is even more important than you think.

The first thing to know about the 2024 ballot measure to legalize marijuana is that it is a massive money laundering scheme being paid for by people whose first priority is to elect Democrats. This strategy was pioneered in Colorado in 2012 – the year Barack Obama won a surprise landslide victory in Colorado and marijuana was legalized -- and here is how they are doing it:

  • Younger voters are disillusioned about politics, but if they can be persuaded to vote, they are vastly more likely to vote for Democrat.
  • How to convince a college-aged voter to care enough about an election to vote? Simple. Say that you are fighting for their right to party. The reason for the 2024 marijuana ballot measure is to make young voters to show up for the presidential election.
  • Rather than spend campaign dollars to call, text, and ballot harvest the votes of young people on college campuses, liberal groups dump ungodly sums of cash into election committees to promote the marijuana legalization ballot measure. By timing marijuana legalization ballot measures to coincide with the presidential election, pro-marijuana committees become the equivalent of Uber-Super PACs that pay to ballot harvest.

In Colorado, the gambit worked like a charm. In polling before the election, Barack Obama was in a statistical tie with the Republican nominee. But thanks to crushing turnout from liberal college campuses funded through the pro-marijuana campaign, Obama cruised to an easy victory in Colorado – the same night the state became the first in the union to pass full legal retail marijuana sales.

The phenomenon has been called “cannabis coattails,” and it has greatly helped Democrats. Consider this from the liberal Brookings Institution:

“Voter turnout in Colorado changed dramatically between 2008 and 2012. In 2008, self-described liberals composed 17 percent of the electorate and that exploded to 28 percent in 2012. With marijuana legalization on the ballot in the Rocky Mountain State, more young people turned out, too. In 2008, 18–29-year-olds made up 14 percent of the electorate, that increased to 20 percent in 2012. The changes were even more significant among 18-24 year olds. With legalization on the ballot, they made up 12 percent of the electorate compared to just 5 percent four years prior.”

Conservatives in Florida won’t lose their advantage overnight, but if marijuana makes it to the ballot, you can mark our words – every competitive seat at the local, legislative, or congressional level will be flooded with marijuana money, as liberals seek to harvest votes for Democrats and legalized drug use.

This point is something that libertarian-minded voters who support marijuana legalization should consider. Libertarians and conservatives don’t agree on marijuana legalization, but we do agree on the need to beat back radical big-government liberalism.  We caution libertarians in Florida – look before you leap.

Just as cynical as the ulterior motives of those pushing marijuana legalization are the actual consequences when it passes. First, the marijuana that is being sold in Colorado and around the country isn’t the same as what you or your parents smoked at Woodstock. High-potency marijuana products are dangerous and lethal, according to an analysis by the University of Southern California’s School of Public Health:

“Allowing the industry to self-regulate in the U.S. has generated products that are more potent and diverse than in other countries and has led to a variety of youth-oriented products, including cannabis-infused ice cream, gummies and pot tarts … Current state regulations and public advisories are inadequate for protecting vulnerable populations who are more susceptible to addiction and other harm. High-potency cannabis products have been linked to short-term memory and coordination issues, impaired cognitive functions, cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, psychosis, and increased risks of anxiety, depression and dependence when used for prolonged periods. Acute health effects associated with high-potency products include unexpected poisonings and acute psychosis.”

Secondly, marijuana legalization is the first step in the Left’s long march to liberalize and legalize the use of other drugs. One short decade after legalizing marijuana, last year Colorado became one of the first states to legalize hallucinogenic mushrooms, even though public health officials say these are mother nature’s equivalent to LSD.

Colorado is moving in the direction of taxpayer-funded safe injection sites. Two years ago, Democratic legislators and Governor Jared Polis passed a law weakening penalties for the possession of fentanyl. You read that right – arguably the greatest threat to our kids is the scourge of fentanyl, and in Colorado, taxpayers are helping create safe spaces to use it, while softening fear of punishment for those who possess it.

Finally, the Colorado experiment with marijuana legalization has proven how powerful a tool drug legalization is for driving fundamental demographic change. Downtown Denver has become a haven for drug use, drug dealing and general chaos. Colorado has learned in a very real way – those who want to freely use drugs will move to the places with the most plentiful supply.

The way freedom-loving Americans have moved to Florida is comparable to the way drug users and drug dealers have flocked to Colorado.

If liberal groups succeed in getting marijuana legalization on the ballot and if they manage to convince Florida voters to approve it next November, you can be sure that all sorts of crime will spike as drug users and drug dealers invade Florida by the hordes. A surge in homelessness and San Francisco-style social decay will follow closely behind. And Democrats will have a lot of new supporters.

Predictably, supporters of marijuana legalization in Florida will say this is not the case. Conservatives and libertarians on the marijuana payroll will say drug legalization is safe and smart and perfectly consistent with limited government conservatism. But they are not telling the truth.

We know. We have seen the dramatic, negative effects of marijuana legalization in an all-too-close and an all-too-real way. Don’t let them undo all the wonderful things happening in Florida the way they have in Colorado.

Conservatives must pull out all the stops to defeat marijuana legalization next November.

Frank McNulty is the former Republican Speaker of the House in Colorado. Jeff Hunt is a prominent Colorado conservative activist.