With three different petition drives hoping to bring recreational marijuana to Florida, legalization will most likely be on the 2020 ballot. To date, the frontrunning Make It Legal Florida initiative, backed by multistate cannabis companies that stand to gain billions, claims to have garnered more than 100,000 petition signatures since it began last month.
Now, a new poll by the University of North Florida reveals 64 percent of Florida voters from both sides of the political spectrum support adult-use marijuana. Of those polled, 73 percent of Democrats, 54 percent of Republicans, and 64 percent of independent voters support legalizing marijuana for adults.
"Support continues to grow for the Make It Legal Florida ballot initiative and we remain confident [in] our ability to make Florida's ballot," Nick Hansen, chairman of Make It Legal Florida, said in a media statement. "Voters are being vocal about what they want and we look forward to continuing the momentum to bring adults in Florida access to cannabis."
This is the third poll revealing growing bipartisan support for marijuana. A poll conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates in July indicated 67 percent of Florida voters supported legalization and 57 percent of those voted for President Donald Trump. A Quinnipiac poll from June showed similar results.
State law requires the Florida Supreme Court to review a petition once it receives 76,632 signatures. After the petition is considered, 766,200 signatures are required for a legalization amendment to appear on the 2020 ballot. In order to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida, at least 60 percent of voters would then need to vote for the amendment.
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Make It Legal Florida's proposed amendment would allow adults age 21 and older to buy marijuana from licensed and regulated marijuana treatment centers, as long as those products are in child-proof packaging and not advertised toward those younger than 21.
Critics have said Make It Legal Florida will make the cannabis industry a monopoly. While the petition organizers say they have obtained more than 100,000 signatures, the state Department of Elections says the group only has 17,873 that are verified. Hansen tells New Times the petitions are still being counted.
"Each of the 67 county supervisors of elections has 30 days to verify petitions and submit them to the state," Hansen said in an email statement. "We continue to deliver petitions for verification multiple times a week across the state and we are on track to make the ballot in 2020."
Other petitions come from Regulate Florida, which would legalize recreational marijuana and allow people to grow their own at home, and from Floridians for Freedom, which has the fewest restrictions on cannabis.