Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

If legalized, regulating pot might cost Florida $1 million

Legalizing medical marijuana could cost Florida in excess of $1.1 million each year, but any other financial or tax impact of offering the drug to the seriously ill is unclear, according to a state economic panel.

The Office of Economic and Demographic Research's Financial Impact Estimating Conference finished its analysis of the medical marijuana ballot initiative Monday and concluded that "increased costs from this amendment to state and local governments cannot be determined."

Aside from the Department of Health, which estimated that it would cost an estimated $1.1 million yearly to regulate the medical marijuana industry, most agencies said the cost would not be significant or did not yet have any hard numbers.

The report stated the health department's costs "will likely be offset through fees charged to the medical marijuana industry and users."

The report estimates that about 417,000 to 452,000 people will use medical marijuana based on figures from other states.

The campaign to put a medical marijuana amendment on the ballot was launched by United for Care, spearheaded by high-profile Orlando trial attorney John Morgan.

The ballot initiative has been opposed by Republican legislative leaders, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz, and Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has filed a challenge to the wording of the amendment with the Florida Supreme Court. Bondi wrote that the court has "long rejected proposals that hide the ball."

The court must review the constitutionality of all amendments and is expected to hear oral arguments Dec. 5.

Organizers said United for Care has collected more than 200,000 petitions, with 121,592 validated. The group will need 683,149 by Feb. 1 for the amendment to be eligible for the 2014 general election ballot.

Crist ally: 'LeMieux is a skunk'

Amid the many valid criticisms of Crist, the newly announced Democratic candidate for governor, it's jarring to hear attacks come from George LeMieux, Crist's former political adviser, chief of staff, and appointed U.S. senator.

"Charlie Crist has done something which in my mind is really breathtaking, not only in Florida but in the country. … In my view this is the largest change of positions by a leading American political figure in as quick a period of time as we've had in recent political history," LeMieux said Monday in a conference call organized by the Florida GOP.

"Anyone who wants to be in high political office has to have a guiding set of principles upon which they can make decisions and those principles are certainly in question here," said LeMieux, calling Crist "my friend."

The comments prompted Buzz to dig out a notebook from a recent conversation with John Morgan, Crist's boss, who told us that despite regular encouragement, Crist never says a negative word about LeMieux.

"LeMieux is a skunk," Morgan said. "If I look like George LeMieux and I have the personality of George LeMieux, and you make me a United States senator, I never, ever am going to do anything against you for the rest of my life. I mean, even if I was going to lose the United States Senate primary, I'm going to say, 'Listen, if you want me to bad-mouth Charlie Crist, it's not going to happen because he made me a United States senator, and he's my friend.' "

Times political editor Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.

If legalized, regulating pot might cost Florida $1 million 11/05/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 8:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pitching on no rest backfires for Erasmo Ramirez, Rays

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — After battling through a 61/2-hour affair Sunday in Minnesota that was the second-longest game in franchise history, Rays officials were quick to decide that even though Erasmo Ramirez had just worked the 15th and final inning, they would stick with him to start Monday's game in Texas.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers, comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  2. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  3. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and similar events, saying they are inappropriate could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]
  4. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  5. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)