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Florida: Just vote ‘NO’ on Amendment 3.

By: John Michael Pierobon

Amendment 3, a referendum to enshrine recreational marijuana in the Florida constitution, is on the ballot this November. The ballot language does not mention the significant cost to the voter. Legalizing recreational marijuana will dramatically increase the cost of electricity, automobile insurance, and health insurance.

A 2022 study published by the Society for the Study of Addiction concluded that in the United States, there appears to be a 20% average increase in cannabis use frequency attributable to recreational legalization. Marijuana consumption also increased in all age groups when Canada legalized marijuana. This is especially true among the youth because they think that because it is legal there is no harm. Making it legal does not make it right; it normalizes dangerous behavior. The scientific evidence is overwhelming; fatal car crashes increase significantly when recreational marijuana is legalized. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that the percentage of drivers in Washington involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana more than doubled after that state made marijuana legal for recreational use. Another study published in 2019 in the journal "Accident Analysis & Prevention" concluded that fatal crash rates increased in Colorado and Washington after the opening of commercial recreational marijuana dispensaries. The study states that in "the five years after legalization, fatal crash rates increased more in Colorado and Washington than would be expected". In Colorado, between 2013, when that state legalized recreational marijuana, and 2019, traffic deaths where drivers tested positive for marijuana increased by 140% as per a Colorado state police report.

Chances of being in a fatal car accident went up significantly in states that legalized recreational marijuana. A recent study published in the journal "Social Science & Medicine" revealed substantial increases in crash fatalities of 22% in Oregon and 20% in Alaska when they legalized it. More traffic fatalities leads to higher automobile insurance premiums. A study published in "JAMA Network Open" found that emergency room visits increased 475% when Canada legalized marijuana. The study suggests "cannabis-involved traffic injuries have increased over time and that the commercialization of cannabis markets may result in further increases." In states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, children, especially those under 10 years old, are at increased risk of accidental poisoning from edibles and other products made from marijuana. The average number of emergency room visits due to cannabis use in this age group more than tripled, from 20.9 per 10,000 visits in 2019 to 65.6 per 10,000 visits in 2022.More emergency room visits means higher health insurance premiums and much longer waits at emergency rooms. Voting to legalize marijuana will also raise the cost of electricity for everyone in Florida. The demand for electricity will increase dramatically because growing marijuana consumes staggering amounts of energy. According to a 2020 study published in the journal "Nature Sustainability" indoor cannabis cultivation in the United States alone accounted for approximately 1% of total electricity consumption in the country. Even in the Sunshine State, marijuana has to be grown indoors because it requires at least 18 hours per day of high-intensity lighting such as high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps to be commercially viable." Growing an Ounce of Pot Indoors Can Emit as Much Carbon as Burning a Full Tank of Gas" is the title of an article in Smithsonian Magazine. Colorado State University researchers write that Colorado marijuana industry's greenhouse gas emissions (2.6 megatons of carbon dioxide) exceed those of the state's coal mining industry (1.8 megatons of carbon dioxide). Growing marijuana has a carbon footprint that easily exceeds most polluting industries.Protect our young children, our safety, our health, our environment, and especially our pocketbooks. Vote no on Amendment 3.

John Michael Pierobon is the vice chair of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Broward County, and the chair of the Tobacco Free Environments subcommittee of the Tobacco Free Workgroup of the Consortium for a Healthier Miami-Dade, and an active member of Tobacco Free Volusia.

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