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DeSantis calls abortion rights and cannabis amendments ‘radical’ and says they’ll fail


Gov. Ron DeSantis says that the constitutional amendments that Floridians will vote on in November — abortion access and recreational weed — are “extreme” and “radical” and predicts that both measures will come up short of the 60% voter threshold required to become law.

“Once voters figure out how radical both of those are, they’re going to fail,” DeSantis said in a press event in Davie, in Broward County. “They are very, very extreme.”

The governor weighed in on the two proposed amendments, which received the seal of approval by the Florida Supreme Court on Monday to be placed on the November 5 ballot.

DeSantis attacked the proposal (to be listed as Amendment 3 on the ballot) which would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older and allow individuals to possess up to 3 ounces, with no more than 5 grams in concentrated form.

“The weed one is not just to decriminalize, it’s basically a license to have it anywhere you want,” he said. “No time, place and manner restrictions. This state will start to smell like marijuana in our cities and counties. It will reduce the quality of life.”

DeSantis then mentioned Florida’s medical marijuana program, which he said he “implemented” though that wasn’t exactly accurate.

After the voters approved medical marijuana in 2016 by more than 71%, the Florida Legislature passed a bill in 2017 that excluded the smokable form of marijuana for medicinal patients. That led Orlando-based attorney John Morgan to file a lawsuit demanding that the state allow medical consumers to be able to smoke the plant. Shortly after he took office in 2019, DeSantis pushed the Legislature to amend the law to allow patients to have the smokable form of cannabis.

“But do we really need to do more with that?  Do we want to have more marijuana in our communities? I don’t think that it will work out well,” DeSantis said, in reference to legalizing recreational cannabis.

The governor was less expansive on his thoughts about the constitutional amendment that would protect abortion access until viability, which will be listed as Amendment 4 on the ballot. The Florida Supreme Court approved the ballot language for that proposal on a 4-3 vote. The justices also ruled on a 6-1 vote on Monday, allowing a six-week abortion ban beginning May 1 across the state.

He then went on to bash the whole concept of constitutional amendments in Florida, which over the past two decades have become one of the only ways for progressive legislation to become law in a GOP-dominant Legislature.

“I think Florida voters over the past four or five cycles have developed a skepticism on these amendments generally because they’re always written in ways that are confusing,” DeSantis said. “You don’t necessarily know what the intent’s going to be. So I think there’s a certain segment of voters, they default. Just vote ‘no’ on these things. Because they know that these things cost tens of millions of dollars to get on.”

While the Florida electorate has rejected a number of proposed constitutional amendments over recent election cycles, they also voted to approve amendments such as raising the minimum wage up to $15 (2020); to allow for the automatic restoration of voting rights for felons (2018); for legalizing medical marijuana (2016), and for “Fair Districts” (2010) that were intended to prevent legislators from drawing lines favoring political parties or incumbents.

Before the governor discussed the constitutional amendments, he was in Broward on Thursday for a bill signing ceremony for legislation that will allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to preserve wildlife, waterways and green spaces in Florida.

Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Florida Phoenix maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Diane Rado for questions: info@floridaphoenix.com. Follow Florida Phoenix on Facebook and Twitter.


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  • sandy

    While I never personally would have an abortion except under extreme circumstances (****, incest, health of mother or baby) I think 6 weeks is too short. 16 weeks was reasonable to determine if you don't want to have a child. I am totally against late term abortions.

    Thursday, April 4 Report this

  • Charles

    If you oppose abortion—don't have one! Vote to restore this privacy right to our state constitution—where it belongs. Privacy rights should not be up for redefinition.

    The voters have had to resort to constitutional amendments because legislators fail to represent the will of the citizens. The referenda that I find worded to confuse voters have always been enacted by the mistakenly-elected legislators!!!!

    We should continue to pass constitutional amendments that make it impossible for legislators owned by special interests to circumvent the will of the citizens.

    Thursday, April 4 Report this

  • N_Alice_Newlon

    The reason doctors should make the decision and not politicians is because abortions are healthcare. Late term abortions are because there is a problem with the preganancy so when someone says it should be 15 weeks or 16 weeks, they do not understand that if your water breaks at 16 weeks, there is no way that the fetus will survive to become a baby (24 weeks) but because there is an abortion ban, the woman has to become septic or get into a medical crisis before they can be treated. This happened in FL to Anya Cook who nearly bled to death. They could be forced to carry a baby to term that will be born still born or has no lungs or no brain. This happened to Alyssa Gonzales. https://abcnews.go.com/US/post-roe-america-women-detail-agony-forced-carry/story?id=105563349 Doctors NOT Politicians.

    Friday, April 5 Report this

  • elizabeth.brown.cpa

    It seems to me that buggernor Preying Mantis needs some of that medical marijuana right now! Another idiot with fascist ideas in his autocratic tinged head. Imagine, the Florida Electorate having the nerve to mount an end run around the gerrymandered elected tools. Yes Yes to constitutional amendments!

    Friday, April 5 Report this

  • jimandlope

    This is interesting in that these two issues (abortion rights and legalization of recreational marijuana) were brought to the vote by a majority of citizens but Governor DeSantis knows better. He knew better about a migrant invasion of Florida but alas it did not happen. He knew better about “illegals” using our healthcare system but they don’t. He knew a state Guard was necessary but it attracts criminals and they pass the background checks! I could go on but it would get boring similar to our Governor who didn’t do well nationally because he doesn’t know better. Jim Tierney

    Friday, April 5 Report this

  • san.gander

    I am totally for a woman's right to choose, with the counsel of those she chooses to advise her, and not those forced on her by anyone, especially the government. Birth control is a healthcare choice that both men and women must make, but abortion is solely the woman's choice. It can be the best choice for too many reasons to go into here. When a normal healthy fetus has reached viablity - able to live outside the womb - then a safe birth for both the mother and baby should happen - in fact be guaranteed!

    Friday, April 5 Report this

  • sandy

    I want to clarify my comment. If the health of the mother or fetus is critical, I am not against abortion late term. I do not approve of late term abortion for any other reason.

    Friday, April 5 Report this