Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist announced Thursday that he would legalize marijuana if elected governor next year, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Crist added he would alsoexpunge misdemeanor or third-degree felony records related to Cannabis.
“Let me be clear, if I’m elected governor I will legalize marijuana in the Sunshine State,” Crist said in a video posted on his Twitter on Thursday. “This is the first part of the Crist contract with Florida,” the candidate said, reports The HIll.
“For too long we have focused on incarceration when we should be focusing on rehabilitation,” he said, reports NBC-2.
At the Florida Capitol, Crist said revenue from state marijuana sales would pay for police agencies, drug treatment and diversion programs and teachers. It’s part of his platform of equality for Floridians of color, the candidate said.
“We know that people across racial and income levels use marijuana at the same rate. And yet, for decades, it’s been poor, Black, and/or Hispanic folks targeted for prison on marijuana charges,” Crist said in December 2020. “That tells me that marijuana has been legal now for a while if you had the right skin tone or the right paycheck.”
His Opponent In The Democratic Primary Already Endorsed Legalization
Nikki Fried, Crist’s opponent in the Democratic primary and a former marijuana lobbyist, has already called for legalization and expunging prior criminal records.
Fried has been open about her Cannabis use. Last month, as Florida Agriculture Commissioner, she called on the U.S. Senate to end federal marijuana prohibition.
Fried also has financial ties to the Cannabis industry. She has an investment of about $130,000 in a licensed medical marijuana treatment center in Florida.
The agriculture commissioner quickly criticized Crist’s Twitter comments. (And she, of course, is also vying to become the Democrat who’ll take on GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, who doesn’t like Cannabis.)
Fried has also previously called on Congress to end the prohibition of marijuana, according to the Tampa Bay Times. On Thursday, she accused Crist of imitating her stance on the marijuana issue.
Crist Supports Decentralization, Home Grow
The former Florida governor said that he was in favor of decentralizing the marijuana industry. Crist supports allowing people to personally grow their own Cannabis plants.
“I believe if you can brew your own beer, you can grow your own weed,” said Crist.
The candidate acknowledged that his stance has changed on Cannabis use. As governor, he had signed harsher, anti-marijuana legislation. That included targeting those growing the plant.
Crist last year voted as a member of Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition and criminalization.