The Phoenix Flyer

Bid to put recreational weed on 2020 ballot off to blazing start

By: - October 3, 2019 10:14 am
marijuana plant

Marijuana plant

A group organized around putting a constitutional amendment on Florida’s 2020 ballot that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults is off to an impressive start.

After just 20 days of collecting ballot signatures, officials with the political committee Make it Legal Florida say they have gathered more than 100,000 petition signatures from Florida voters.

They soon will submit the documents to supervisor of elections offices to be verified and then, ultimately, sent to the state’s Division of Elections.

“We are blown away by the support of Florida voters, but our efforts are just getting started,” Nick Hansen, chairman of Make it Legal Florida, said in a written statement.

”Make it Legal Florida will continue the fight for what Florida voters clearly want – regulated adult use marijuana for those 21 and up. We’ll continue to remain focused on our efforts and feel confident that we will meet the goals and deadlines required by the state of Florida,” he said.

Advocates attempting to put citizen-led constitutional amendments on the 2020 ballot next year need to collect signatures from 766,200 voters, representing at least 14 of Florida’s 27 congressional districts, by February.

Other campaigns trying to place amendments on the ballot this election cycle have been at it for months and in some cases years. In recent years, no campaign to get a measure on the ballot has started as late as Make it Legal has.

But Make it Legal Florida enjoys considerable financial resources. One of its top funders is MedMen, the California-based corporation that entered the Florida medical marijuana market last year by spending $53 million to purchase a license from Treadwell Nursery.

The company has plans to open 25 medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state. The other major funder is Surterra Wellness, which also holds one of the prized licenses in Florida to grow and sell medical pot.

Two additional constitutional amendment campaigns are attempting to make recreational pot legal for adults in Florida. One, called Regulate Florida, began its effort in March 2016. According to the Division of Elections website, that group has submitted 91,236 signatures, surpassing the required number to secure review by the Florida Supreme Court.

The state’s high court is mandated to reviewing whether proposed amendments fairly and accurately describe the chief purposes of the proposal and whether it complies with the state’s single-subject rule for citizen initiatives.

The other is Floridians for Freedom, which began its campaign in August 2015. That group has collected 23,394 signatures to date.

poll of 800 Florida voters commissioned by MedMen, released in late August, showed that 67 percent would support legalizing cannabis for adults. The constitutional amendment must tally 60 percent of the vote to become law.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has spent the past 18 years covering news and politics in the Sunshine State, most recently with FloridaPolitics.com. He worked for five years as the political editor of Creative Loafing in Tampa, and before that he was the assistant news director at WMNF radio, where he served as creator/anchor/producer of the hour-long WMNF Evening News. A San Francisco native, Mitch began his career at KPFA Radio in Berkeley in the 1990's.

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