Florida cannabis activists and legislators are laying the groundwork for a cannabis legalization initiative for the 2022 ballot and an expected legislative fight in 2021. However, although support for adult-use cannabis in the Sunshine State is high, challenges persist.
Called “Make it Legal Florida,” one initiative aims to amend the Florida Constitution to allow adults over 21 to possess up to 2.5 ounces for personal use. Under the new amendment, existing Florida medical cannabis shops would be tasked with distributing cannabis in the state but restrictions will still exist on public consumption, advertising to youth, and cannabis use under certain “circumstances,” the Tallahassee Democrat reports.
“The medical marijuana market in Florida expanded and the sky is not falling. Property values are not going down where you have dispensaries.” — Nick Hanson, Chairman of “Make it Legal Florda,” via the Democrat
In addition to the 550,000 signatures “Make it Legal Florida” has already secured, another 300,000 are needed to get the issue on the 2022 ballot. The ballot language must also be approved by the Florida Supreme Court before the election.
Opponents have already filed briefs complaining about “Make it Legal’s” wording, saying the initiative is “confusing” because it does not mention that cannabis is federally illegal.
Legislators are looking to pass bills in the Florida legislature legalizing adult-use cannabis. State Sen. Jeff Brands (D-St. Petersburg) and state Rep. Carlos G. Smith (D-Orlando) both plan to introduce adult-use cannabis bills in the 2021 legislative session but Republicans like Senate President Wilton Simpson (Trilby) and Gov. Ron DeSantis have said they do not support legalizing cannabis for adult use.
Recent polls show 64% of Floridians support legalizing adult-use cannabis. Additionally, a Duke University study found the state could save $25.5 million simply by stopping adult-use cannabis prosecutions, which would simultaneously increase tax receipts by $120 million.
Other initiatives in Florida seek to add mental health issues to the state’s medical cannabis qualifying condition list, allow medical cannabis home grows, and yet another seeks to regulate cannabis like alcohol in Florida, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.