SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - With two looming ballot proposals that would legalize recreational marijuana in Florida, several state House committees are hearing about potential pitfalls of legalizing pot this week.
The House Health and Human Services Committee heard from Harvard Medical School psychobiologist Bertha Madras, who issued dire warnings about the dangers of marijuana use, particularly for youngsters. She says marijuana use in teens can increase the risk of schizophrenia and cause long-term harmful effects in adults.
"If youth use marijuana, they are much more likely to smoke, they are much more likely to binge on alcohol, they are much more likely to drink heavily, and they are much more likely to use illicit drugs," Madras argued. "It will take years, and one or two generations, to fully comprehend the consequences."
Democrat Shevrin Jones feels Republican leaders may be attempting to lay the groundwork for how the House would slow the implementation process for recreational marijuana, should either of the proposals pass in 2020.
"More young people who are voting are looking at it from an aspect of there is nothing wrong with it, and if you look at the polls, a majority of Floridians are in favor of the legalization of marijuana," Jones stated, adding, "Listening to her testimony, there were some things that she said that were, in all due respect, propaganda for individuals who do not want to legalize marijuana."
After an overwhelming majority of voters signed off on medical pot in 2016, proponents of two separate recreational marijuana proposals are trying to get legalization measures onto the November 2020 ballot. One would allow adults over 21 to have up to 2.5 ounces of pot for personal use. The other would require the state to regulate marijuana in the same manner as alcohol.