Florida Petition to Legalize Marijuana Dies From Lack of Signatures

The Regulate Florida petition to legalize adult use of marijuana is no more.
The Regulate Florida petition to legalize adult use of marijuana is no more. Photo by Karli Evans
It was a valiant effort, but one of Florida's front-running petition drives to legalize recreational marijuana will not be on the 2020 ballot, owing to a lack of signatures.

Regulate Florida, which sought to govern cannabis in a similar fashion to alcohol, announced yesterday it didn't have nearly enough support to garner the necessary 766,200 signatures ahead of the February 1 deadline.

"The sad reality is that we are not going to be able to meet that deadline," Regulate Florida chairman Michael Minardi wrote on the group's website.

According to the Florida Division of Elections, the movement had collected only 92,540 valid signatures. Minardi and his fellow organizers say they'll continue to advocate for legal adult use of marijuana in 2020.

Regulate Florida, also known as Sensible Florida, began with a slow burn in 2016 and was the first petition in the Sunshine State to make it to a judicial review this past July. A subsequent financial analysis found Florida stood to gain $190 million in sales-tax and tourism dollars each year if voters approved the initiative.

Though Regulate Florida is now kaput, another ballot initiative to legalize weed remains viable. Backed by millions from cannabis giants Surterra and MedMen, Make It Legal Florida has collected 166,138 valid signatures to date.

Nevertheless, some marijuana activists have refused to sign the Make It Legal Florida petition because it would monopolize the industry in the state, they say. Whereas Regulate Florida would have allowed consumers to grow their own weed, under Make It Legal Florida, adults aged 21 or older would be able to buy pot from only dispensaries that currently sell medical marijuana.

"It will make these companies billions, and it will crush the industry for the next ten years," hemp and cannabis consultant Brett Puffenbarger told New Times earlier this year. "I'd rather crush the industry for two years and come back with a real petition in 2022."
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Jessica Lipscomb is the former news editor of Miami New Times.

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