420 with CNW – Florida House Panel Turns to Oregon for Lessons on Recreational Marijuana

November 12, 2019 04:20:02

There is a strong possibility of putting recreational marijuana legalization on the 2020 ballot in Florida and this has prompted the House panel to turn to Oregon to learn about the economic, environmental, and other changes that have occurred since the state legalized recreational marijuana in 2015.

The executive director of the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Chris Gibson, told the House panel (House Health & Human Services Committee) that there has been an increase in tax revenue. The state has also experienced a rise in illicit use of drugs and that currently, Oregon is dealing with marijuana overproduction.

Gibson also told the panel that currently, the state has enough marijuana to meet the demand of consumers within Oregon for the next six-and-a-half years.

Gibson further said that due to the excessive supply of weed to the recreational market, it is believed to be servicing the black market sales in other states such as Florida. He also noted that some legal businesses are exporting marijuana out of state, which is considered illegal.

Although he refused to comment on whether marijuana is being used as a scapegoat for illicit drugs, he said that in the last five years, Oregon has reported an increase in drug use across the state.

Adult use and possession of marijuana were legalized in Oregon in 2015 through the ballot. The measure garnered 56% of the votes. According to the data from the Department of Revenue in Oregon, the state has collected marijuana tax revenue amounting to more than $275 million since 2016. And, the majority of it is from recreational sales, said Gibson.

Medical marijuana in Florida was approved in 2016 through the ballot. Supporters of recreational marijuana legalization are trying to include two measures in the 2020 elections so that adult-use recreational marijuana can also be available in the Sunshine State.

One of the campaigns to legalize pot is spearheaded by the “Make it Legal Florida” initiative and they are supported by medical marijuana operators in the state. This particular measure would permit people aged 21 years and above to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis.

After the HHS committee meeting of Tuesday, the House panel Chairman, Ray Rodrigues, told reporters that the members of his committee should have all the information about the two proposals. Rodrigues further noted that if either of the proposals gets in the ballot, the constituents will need information and their position on the bills. Therefore, the HHS committee should be fully informed.

Rodrigues was intrigued by Gibson’s presentation on the environmental impacts of growing marijuana on Tuesday. According to Gibson, to produce a kilogram of weed, the plant uses as much energy as that of two refrigerators and release as much CO2 in the air as a passenger car in one year.

It is widely hoped that this information-gathering process will not be used by the House Panel to de-campaign legalization. Analysts believe such an act would be regarded as unfair by cannabis industry companies like Plus Products Inc. (CSE: PLUS) (OTCQB: PLPRF) and VPR Brands LP (OTCQB: VPRB) who have always looked for ways to be more efficient in all steps of the production, manufacture and sale of pot.

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