Florida Activist Groups Move Forward with Legalization Bid

Two cannabis advocacy groups in Florida have submitted petition signatures for two different cannabis legalization proposals; prohibitionist advocates, meanwhile, have formed their own campaign to push back against cannabis reforms.

Full story after the jump.

Two activist groups in Florida have moved a step closer to putting an adult-use legalization question to voters in 2020 after submitting the required number of petition signatures to the Division of Elections on Friday to trigger the Florida Supreme Court review of the proposed ballot language, according to a state data outlined by Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.

The initiative backed by Make It Legal Florida submitted 108,435 signatures for its question, which would allow adults 21 or older to “possess, use, purchase, display, and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and marijuana accessories for personal use for any reason,” the report says. Meanwhile, the Sensible Florida campaign submitted 92,438 signatures for their plan which would regulate cannabis in the same manner as alcohol. Both groups needed 75,632 total signatures to trigger the state Supreme Court Action and both would need 766,200 signatures by February to put the question on the General Election ballots next year.

The report indicates that Make It Legal Florida is so far outraising its competitors, reporting $2.7 million in cash and $114,500 in in-kind contributions, and spending more than $2.6 million since the campaign’s launch in August.

Sensible Florida has raised about $205,000 in cash, $245,000 in in-kind donations, and spent $160,000 since the organization was launched four years ago, the report says.

In 2016, two competing medical cannabis legalization proposals vied for a spot on the ballot in Arkansas and, albeit one failed to make the cut, activists were concerned that two competing proposals that effectively do the same thing would split the vote, forcing both to fail.

Following the success of both Florida pro-legalization groups efforts thus far, anti-legalization organizers have formed a group called Floridians Against Recreational Marijuana, or FARM. That effort includes Pat Bainter, owner of the firm Data Targeting and Republican political consultant.

Brian Swensen, who will manage the prohibitionist campaign, called the initiative to legalize cannabis “dangerous” and will drive an increase in health care prices, increase costs on businesses, and kill jobs, and increase the burden on taxpayers that will pay for the costs associated with recreational marijuana.”

The group also said they are against “the mega-marijuana, out-of-state corporate interests” that would follow legalization in the Sunshine State.

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