Second Florida Petition for Recreational Marijuana Gathers Enough Signatures

The cannabis industry's success will depend upon the state's willingness to legalize recreational use.
The cannabis industry's success will depend upon the state's willingness to legalize recreational use. Photo by David Ramos / Getty Images
The road to recreational marijuana in Florida is long and full of obstacles, but the legalization movement continues to gain momentum. Today the advocacy group Make It Legal Florida announced that its petition to put legal weed on the ballot in 2020 has gathered enough signatures to merit a Florida Supreme Court review.

"We are overwhelmed by the support the Make it Legal Florida effort has received around the state from Florida voters who believe adults should have access to regulated cannabis products," Make it Legal chairman Nick Hansen said in a statement. "We are continuing to deliver signatures for validation, and we are confident we will meet the deadline for Florida's 2020 ballot."

The Make it Legal Florida petition is the second ballot initiative to clear the first hurdle of obtaining 76,632 verified signatures. The other initiative, proposed by Regulate Florida, passed that milestone in late July.

Before they end up in front of voters, ballot initiatives must undergo judicial and financial reviews before moving on to the final obstacle: collecting 766,200 certified signatures by the beginning of February 2020. Regulate Florida's petition has already completed its financial impact statement.

Make it Legal Florida says it gathered more than 77,000 verified signatures in just 68 days. The advocacy group claims it already has more than 313,000 unverified signatures, collected in person, via mail, and online. According to the organization, those unverified signatures are already on their way to the state elections office for certification, a process that can take up to 30 days. 

Make it Legal Florida now has a little more than 80 days to get its ducks and signatures in a row by the February deadline. The group says it's on track to meet that goal.
The Make It Legal Florida petition, like that of Regulate Florida and a third petition, Floridians for Freedom, would allow adults aged 21 or older to possess and use cannabis. However, unlike the other petitions, the Make It Legal Florida initiative does not allow residents to grow their own weed, instead requiring its purchase from dispensaries currently selling medical marijuana. Critics say Make It Legal Florida's petition could lead to a monopoly on marijuana sales in the state. However, the petition is backed by multistate cannabis companies Surterra Wellness and MedMen and has attracted the most funding of the three major ballot initiatives.

Polling from earlier this year found 65 percent of Florida voters approved of "allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use." If a measure got on the ballot next year, it would need 60 percent voter approval to pass. 
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Manuel Madrid is a former staff writer for Miami New Times. The child of Venezuelan immigrants, he grew up in Pompano Beach. He studied finance at Virginia Commonwealth University and worked as a writing fellow for the magazine The American Prospect in Washington, D.C.