Rick Scott Cites Brother’s Death in Decision to Vote Against Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida says he’ll vote against legalizing recreational marijuana in his state this November. His decision is based on his brother’s long struggle with addiction.

Scott shared that his brother, Roger Scott, started smoking marijuana as a teenager and then battled with substance use for the rest of his life.

“People end up with addictive personalities, and so he did,” Scott said. “It messes up your life, and so that’s why I’ve never supported legalization of drugs.”

Roger Scott died in April at 67. Although substance abuse wasn’t the direct cause, his brother says “a life of drugs and alcohol” took a toll on him.

Rick Scott, who became wealthy as a lawyer and health care executive before entering politics, is now running for reelection. He believes his brother’s troubles started with marijuana.

Scott’s stance aligns with other Republicans who worry that marijuana use might lead to using more dangerous substances.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse noted in 2019 that most cannabis users don’t move on to harder drugs. However, they also mentioned that using THC, marijuana’s psychoactive compound, might cause brain changes that could make addiction to other drugs more likely.

Amie Goodin from the University of Florida said that while people who use riskier drugs often used marijuana first, it’s unclear if marijuana actually causes this progression.

Florida’s upcoming voter initiative would legalize recreational marijuana if 60% or more voters approve it in November.

This would require the Florida Legislature to set up regulations for production and sales. Florida, which already allows medical marijuana, would join 24 other states that have legalized recreational use.

Scott and Florida’s Republican Party oppose this change. They argue that the amendment would benefit powerful marijuana businesses while putting children at risk and harming Florida’s family-friendly image.

The amendment’s sponsor, Smart & Safe Florida, argues that legalization would bring “accountability, transparency, and regulations” to ensure cannabis is safe and not laced with dangerous chemicals.

When Scott was governor, voters approved medical marijuana, but he and the Legislature imposed strict rules, including banning smokable marijuana. Cannabis advocates sued, and a court allowed smokable medical marijuana just before Scott left office. His successor, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, chose not to appeal the decision.

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