Jeb Bush opposes Florida medical marijuana ballot initiative
August 15th, 2014
09:02 AM ET
8 years ago

Jeb Bush opposes Florida medical marijuana ballot initiative

(CNN) - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced his opposition Thursday to an overwhelmingly popular proposal that would legalize medical marijuana in his state.

The Republican said "allowing large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter" to the state's efforts to boost tourism and a business-friendly environment.

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Amendment 2 will appear as a ballot initiative this November and must garner 60% support to pass.

"I believe it is the right of states to decide this issue," Bush said in a statement. "And I strongly urge Floridians to vote against Amendment 2 this November.”

Bush joined a coalition against the measure along with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida, and the Florida Trucking Association.

Bush is considering a presidential bid for 2016, and his opposition to the measure could be an in issue in his political future given the widespread support for medical marijuana, both in Florida and on a national scale.

According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, 88% of Florida voters back legalized medical marijuana, including 80% of Republicans. And more than half of voters favor the idea of allowing adults to have small amounts of pot for recreational use.

Medical marijuana also has strong backing nationwide. A CNN/ORC International Poll in January showed that nearly nine in 10 adults favored legalizing pot for medicinal reasons. As for recreational marijuana, a CBS News Poll in May indicated that 48% of adults think it should be legal, while 47% think it should be illegal.

Despite Amendment 2's broad support among Florida voters, many of the state's GOP elected officials are speaking out against the measure, including Gov. Rick Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio (another potential presidential contender) and much of the legislature's Republican leadership.

Republican mega donor Sheldon Adelson, who's heavily involved in presidential elections, has spent $2.5 million against the initiative, the Tampa Bay Times reported in June.

Political observers note that a medical marijuana ballot initiative could help increase Democratic turnout during a midterm election year.

Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, the group that pushed to get the measure on the ballot, said in a statement it’s “surprising” that Bush would “take a position so out of step with the voters who twice elected him to the highest office in the state."

Scott already signed a bill into law this year that allows a limited strain of marijuana for medicinal use and has support among Florida Republicans. The substance is low in THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) and aims to help some cancer patients, as well as those suffering from epilepsy, muscle spasms and seizures. He also signed a bill that protects the patients' identities.

Bush is campaigning with Scott Friday morning at an event in South Florida.

CNN’s Steve Brusk contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2016 • Florida • Jeb Bush • Marijuana
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. rick

    There probably is a medical use of it.. But like every other drug used for pain relief and such.. Will be a huge problem of abuse. The many already out on market today are used only for the so called recreational use.. Even though prescriptions have to be given them. Its all for money in someones pockets. And the deaths that WILL COME from this if passed will be a minor problem.. So? How much is you or your child thats killed by someone high on it driving through a school zone worth?? Thats the minor problem the money grubbers dont care about..

    August 15, 2014 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  2. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    That's right Jeb. You ain't no RINO. Show them conservatives that you can be bought.

    August 15, 2014 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  3. yolanda

    Legalizing pot in Colorado hasn't hurt tourism Mr. Bush, and we're not talking just for medicinal purposes. Why don't people accept that it's going to eventually be legal everywhere, so make the transition smooth and profitable for the state(s)?

    August 15, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |

    WELL, I'm glad you don't have a PRAYER of EVER being elected president mr bush!!!!!!

    August 15, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  5. Gurgyl

    --what is so wrong while other states are allowing this stuff. Well, let me tell you, Alcohol is legal save otherwise age limit, it is o.k. A guy drinks he drinks. He, most of the people, know the limit. It is for medical use. Don't bar this. Use your judgement.

    August 15, 2014 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  6. MSW

    The Oxicontin capital and distribution center of the US and he's worried about weed? Incredible.

    August 15, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  7. Fair is Fair

    If you were still the Governor of Florida, Jeb, I'd say your opinion counts. But you're not. So it doesn't. It's just your opinion.

    August 15, 2014 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  8. Paul

    Am I not mistaken but isn't tourism up in Colorado and Washington states? I think the real reason he says this is the reasons corporations lobbied to get it added to the narcotics bill back in the 30s or 40s when it was made illegal to begin with when only used recreationally in the back of Jazz clubs.

    August 15, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  9. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    With all of the seniors in Florida, they'll benefit the most from it. I know cataracts, Alzheimer's must be an epidemic in Florida. You're on the wrong side of history Jebby.

    August 15, 2014 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    Jeb Bush is just pandering to the conservative wingnuts. Legalization of marijuana has been good for Çolorado tourism and business.

    August 15, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. BossIlluminati

    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

    "any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" – cali secret 420

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

    20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

    Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
    Deaths by Tobacco: Millions
    Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
    Deaths by Guns: Millions
    Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions
    Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever...they are killing my American family while denying freedom

    love and freedom forever


    August 15, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. smith

    Leagalize it and tax the heck out of it. Were going to need the money to pay for all the illegal aliens coming across our borders everyday.

    August 15, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  13. The Real Tom Paine

    @ Fair, even if he were still governor, his opinion would count for very little. I don't wait with baited breath to hear what the governor of MA or AL have to say on any given issue, and I doubt you do, either. Hope you have a great weekend!

    August 15, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. salty dog

    Its going to be a slaughter this November, from what I've seen and read, the gop will get a good lesson in my town the candidate who backed it won in a landslide, big turnout too, I never even heard of the guy, bug he's now mayor. It was fun to see the counsel members who were against it acting like little kids who didn't get their way. I believe the state law passed with 65%, and when they threatened to do it over, the polls said it would pass with even higher approval. Enter rick Snyder, basically made it illegal to buy, sell, or posses, their way of circumventing a law they don't like, see it everyday with the gop, sad they just won't let you do what you were allowed to by existing laws.

    August 15, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  15. jo clo

    I still remember the Savings and Loan scandal of the 1980s when Jeb made a lot of money illegally ... and the tax payers got the bill

    August 15, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  16. HempStaff

    Big shock here – I mean the Bush's were known for great decisions and intelligent thoughts, right?

    VOTE YES on #2! Looking to work in the Florida Medical Cannabis Industry? Check out HempStaff

    August 15, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  17. Fair is Fair

    @ Tom Paine – since they're speaking of medicinal use in FL, his opinion would matter if he was the governor of FL. In fact, his opinion would mean a LOT (think veto power). Hence my comment. A fine weekend to you as well!

    August 15, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. Tom

    And this is surprising because.....? He's a Republican, "no" is the only word he knows.

    August 15, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  19. Rick

    Who give a crap about Jeb. A right wing criminal hell bent on the company line. Pill mills are ok in the sunshine state, but not a plant that has little to no negative effects. VOTE YES ON 2 FLORIDA!

    August 15, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. Gurgyl

    -And just know this fact, some of the medicines are in the direct form if this leafy stuff. When you use as a medication, why not this. In Ayurvedic medicine, they use it any way. For ex., turmeric is anti-septic. Lot of stuff this guy does not know–typical Bush.

    August 15, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  21. MrManhattan

    Another Republican, lost in a pre-historic era in a Third World state.

    August 15, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  22. smith

    @boss blah blah-Anything smoked over a long period of time will cause bad health and lead to your death. Tobacco products like pot won`t kill you from a single or multiple uses but over a long period of time will cause health issue or even death.

    August 15, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  23. Sniffit

    "Am I not mistaken but isn't tourism up in Colorado and Washington states?"

    I think you're right. I know I've read about "Pot Tours" in CO at least. Pseudo-journalist Maureen Dowd went on one, ate a whole bunch of brownie or something (against the tour guide's advice), tripped out hard and then wrote an article whining about it haha

    August 15, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  24. Sniffit


    Indeed. It's a war on our wallets especially.

    August 15, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  25. ge

    republicans in Colorado were against legalising till they say how much money was in it.

    August 15, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
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