Jeff Greene, the Palm Beach billionaire who this week joined a crowded slate of Democrats seeking to replace Gov. Rick Scott, shared his thoughts about marijuana with Truth or Dara during a lengthy interview that included some chit-chat about Willie Nelson and air pods.
(Spoiler alert: He’s a fan of both the musician and the technology).
On medical marijuana, Greene’s got the same take as his competitors, who’ve all come out in support of allowing patients to smoke their treatment.
But the father of three young boys is on the fence about flat-out legalization of recreational pot. Greene says he wants more data about what’s happened in other states that have legalized marijuana before he decides.
Saying he “always likes to learn from other people,” Greene wants to look at states such as Colorado, where recreational has been legal for more than a minute.
Greene’s biggest worry is his three young sons, who are now ages four, six and eight.
“They grow up so quickly. When I think of recreational marijuana being legal, I just imagine my son in four or five years,” said Greene.
Perhaps his 13-year-old son is visiting a friend and comes across “a pack of marijuana cigarettes” left around the house by a relative or friend, Greene posited.
“Is he going to say, hey, let’s try this,” Greene wondered.
“So the biggest worry I have is, again, as a father with young children, and someone whose candidacy is largely based on kids and getting kids great educations and having equality of opportunity for all Floridians, and as someone who’s focused on kids.
My view would be, let’s look at the states that have legalized recreational marijuana and let’s understand if there’s been an increase in consumption among young people. If there has, I have to say I definitely want to decriminalize it but I would not legalize it so fast,” he said.
But if the kids are OK, Greene said the state should go for it.
“If there has been no uptick in use whatsoever among young people, I’d say absolutely legalize it, regulate it. That way people who are using it know what they’re getting. Tax it, get some revenue, use the revenue from that to attack the real drug problem, which is the opioid crisis, which is epidemic in our state, in our country,” he said. “It’s something I want to look at very intelligently, just like in education. I look at the states that have done a great job, like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and think, what can we learn from them here in Florida to make our education top five in the country?”
When Truth or Dara asked Greene where he stands on the marijuana issue (both smokable and recreational) he prefaced his response with: “This is my position. It didn’t come from any poll or research. It’s just how I feel.”
Greene, 63, said that medical marijuana has “proven to be an enormous help” to sick people.
“These are people who have cancer, who are really struggling. If it helps relieve their pain, how can we possible not let them get it, in any way they want to ingest it,” he said.
People have been smoking marijuana “for generations now,” Greene said, adding that he doesn’t believe that allowing patients to smoke pot will result in more pot being available for people to use recreationally.
Smoke is an issue, of course, because of a legal tangle over a state law prohibiting smokable medical marijuana. Judge Karen Gievers ruled that the ban runs afoul of the constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida, but Gov. Rick Scott’s administration is appealing the decision.
“On medical, I say make it available. If they want to smoke it, if they want to swallow it, whatever they want to do, but, if it helps them, please Rick Scott, please Republicans, stop hurting these people. These are people who are very sick often, and it’s just horrible that they’re restricting their ability to get pain relief,” he said.