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Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush lashes out a legalized marijuana

Vying for the moderate conservative vote
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is back in the news hammering a Florida ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana. Unlike his political colleagues in Colorado and Washington State who successfully legalized marijuana, Bush claims “ … it will tarnish the state's prestigious reputation as a tourist and retirement mecca,” according to The Tampa Bay Times Thursday.

In a twist from the usual debate that pot will cause more crime and lead to more dangerous drugs, Bush has a different take altogether. "Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism, and a desirable place to raise a family or retire."

He added, “This will allow large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all of these efforts. I believe it is the right of states to decide this issue, and I strongly urge Floridians to vote against Amendment 2 this November."

The topic is now one in 20 states across the country that allows medical marijuana. Other states like New York and Washington, DC are fiercely debating the issue. Florida’s marijuana proposal has actually been approved by the state's Supreme Court. It has widespread support that could actually unseat Republican Governor Rick Scott, who is adamantly opposed to any legalization.

Bush’s stand on the issue is a risky one. As a a possible contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, he has joined ranks with the conservative Florida Chamber, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida, and the Florida Trucking Association denouncing a planned constitutional amendment on November's ballot.

Taking an open jab at the Florida State Bar Association, considered very liberal, Bush said, "I find it curious that the largest funder of this push to legalize pot is a personal injury trial lawyer firm, yet such measures are overwhelmingly opposed by Florida's medical and law enforcement community. Florida voters are smart, and when the facts are on the table, I believe they will say no to drugs in Florida."

Bush could be running for the presidential nomination along with fellow Floridian, Sen. Marco Rubio who supports the use of medical marijuana, but only the non-euphoric strains, the Times reported.

It appears Bush is going the more conservative route with his campaign early in the game. Most political observers expect Bush to run a moderate conservative campaign to attract the most voters in his home state.

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