The state is starting the process of figuring out how much it would cost to legalize medical marijuana. Private groups are gathering petition signatures to put a proposed constitutional amendment on next year’s ballot.
All citizen initiatives that propose changes to the Constitution must undergo a financial review.
Economists for the Florida Legislature will spend the next few weeks running the numbers.
Vesselka McAlarney with the Office of Demographic and Economic Research looked at data from other states that have legalized the drug.
“Using their experience, we applied it to Florida’s population. And we estimate that there may be anywhere between 450 medical marijuana users to 400,000 medical marijuana users.”
Chief economist Amy Baker says they’ll consider details like the cost of putting together a patient registry and regulating marijuana treatment centers.
“Whether it’s a good or bad policy decision we wouldn’t consider. Any information on what it’s doing to society in general, we wouldn’t consider. So we have a very, very limited focus.”
A preliminary analysis suggests the Department of Health would spend just over $700,000 dollars a year to carry out the amendment. Other agencies will likely be impacted as well, like the Department of Agriculture and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The committee will prepare a financial statement that voters can read if the proposal makes it onto the ballot next year.