End of the Square Grouper: Medical Marijuana Appears Headed To Florida
Fishing is good in the Florida Keys, the collection of islets and islands connected by a ribbon of New Deal-era highway terminating in Key West, 90 miles away from Cuba.
In particular, ever since America decided it had an illegal drug habit and didn’t much care where or who the drugs came from, the area is known for “square grouper,” the term for bales of marijuana found floating in the Atlantic Ocean between the USA and pot-producing countries like Colombia, abandoned by smugglers who decided it was smarter to cut bait than be caught by the Coast Guard.
In the last month, 400 pounds of this valuable “fish” has been recovered by authorities, washed up on South Florida beaches or plucked from the ocean, according to recent reports picked up by Business Insider. This is interpreted as a sign that these decades-old smuggling routes are still in use, according to authorities — but it’s also proof positive that demand for cannabis in the Sunshine State is high.
Which could also mean it’s past time for Florida to have a domestic source.
Florida voters are set to consider for the second time in three years an amendment to the state constitution that would allow seriously ill Floridians to access medical marijuana. While Amendment 2 is more restrictive than the medical marijuana laws seen on the West Coast — only people with “debilitating” diseases like AIDS and cancer would be allowed to access the drug — it looks like Florida is ready to go legal, even in a limited way. The Miami Herald, the state’s biggest newspaper — with a famously conservative reader base — recommended a yes vote on the measure.
And for anyone concerned about the illegal fishing off of the Keys, Amendment 2 appears to be a big part of the solution.
On the West Coast, the flow of marijuana from south to north has slowed down considerably in the past few decades. Numerous illegal marijuana farmers in regions like Sinaloa have told reporters that they’re giving up on growing cannabis, for the cartels or for anyone else, for a simple reason: demand has gone away. There’s little-to-no market for illegal Mexican marijuana in places like California, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, where cannabis can be bought in a retail dispensary.
Not to say that the criminal element has evaporated entirely. There are still stories of renegade grows on public lands — where the only strain is “Bandanna Kush,” as the joke goes — but it appears that cannabis is headed to other illegal markets in the Midwest or other parts of the country.
Maybe even Florida — but if that state can produce its own, there won’t be much incentive for smugglers to try and bring it there. Which means square grouper is close to becoming an endangered species.
Are you a Floridian who supports Amendment 2? How are you helping to bring medical marijuana to your state?