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Amendment 3: The probability and impacts of legalizing recreational marijuana in Florida

If approved this November, Florida’s proposed Amendment 3 will legalize the recreational use of marijuana, allowing adults 21 and over to carry up to three ounces of the substance. 

In Washington, marijuana is on track to be federally reclassified as a less dangerous Schedule III drug, losing its Schedule I status that placed it alongside drugs like heroin and LSD. 

While this reclassification would enact no significant legal changes and faces a lengthy legal process, it could “[give] many state lawmakers a little less hesitation to support a bill,” Matthew Schweich, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, told AP. Additionally, the U.S. Cannabis Council said that this reclassification would “signal a tectonic shift” toward marijuana policy.

Marijuana plants are seen at a secured growing facility in Washington County, N.Y., May 12, 2023. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, a historic shift to generations of American drug policy that could have wide ripple effects across the country. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

With daily marijuana use outpacing daily drinking in the U.S., is this bill likely to pass – and if it is, who are the people supporting it?

Reception of Amendment 3

According to Dr. Michael Binder, a political science professor at UNF and faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL), the bill has a fighting chance this November.

Reception to the bill has “generally been very positive,” he said, citing one of  PORL’s polls with a 67 percent support rate for the legislation. 

Unsurprisingly, the cohort with the highest level of support is people aged 18-24 with 86 percent in favor of the bill. Although older voters are less likely to support the bill, 64 percent of those aged 55-64 and 51 percent of those 65+ still support the amendment, showing that the bill still does have majority support among these groups.

“I think it has a high chance of passage,” Binder said. 

Where Florida has an advantage in this vote is its ability to learn from the multitude of other states that have passed bills either decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana use or possession. 

“You’ve got 20-plus other states that have some version of legalized marijuana that you can look to for guidelines,” Binder said. “It’s not like you have to reinvent the wheel.”

Hope for future legislation

While medical marijuana is currently legal in Florida, it falls under restrictive guidelines, requiring an official diagnosis from a limited list of medical conditions as well as a registration and renewal fee. But for those who use the substance to treat other conditions, these criteria are too narrow. 

23-year-old UNF student Sidney, who is going by a pseudonym to avoid the potential legal implications of marijuana use, suffers from insomnia and migraines and the substance helps make their symptoms more manageable. 

“[Marijuana] helps relax my body to the point where my migraines become headaches and I’m less likely to struggle falling asleep,” they said.

Sidney believes that the potential benefits of marijuana use outweigh the risks.

“We’ve seen how medical weed helps those with chronic physical [or] mental illnesses,” they said.

According to a 2017 study, the use of cannabis and cannabinoids can aid those with chronic pain as well as chemotherapy-induced nausea. Similarly, it is reported by the American Psychological Association that  people with anxiety or anxiety-related conditions saw improvement in cognitive performance following cannabis use.

To Sidney, leaving marijuana unregulated poses unnecessary risks. “Because it’s not regulated, I’m not sure [if] it’s cut with anything like fentanyl,” they said. 

“If weed was regulated in the way it needs to be, then I wouldn’t have to worry about all that junk.”

Floridians will vote on the citizen initiated Amendment 3 on November 5, 2024. 


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected]

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