by Jackie Mitchell
In Florida, a campaign supporting a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana, Smart and Safe Florida, has raised $20 million. Funding is from Trulieve Cannabis Corp., a marijuana business that operates in several states, including Florida. The campaign is collecting signatures to place the initiative on the ballot for Nov. 5, 2024.
The initiative would legalize marijuana for adults 21 years old and older. Individuals would be allowed to possess up to three ounces of marijuana (about 85 grams), with up to five grams in the form of concentrate. Existing Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers would be authorized under the initiative to sell marijuana to adults for personal use. The Florida State Legislature could provide by state law for the licensure of entities other than existing Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers to cultivate and sell marijuana products.
In 2016, voters in Florida legalized medical marijuana through a ballot initiative, which was approved by a vote of 71.32% in favor and 28.68% opposed.
In Florida, constitutional amendments require a 60% supermajority vote of approval to pass. This requirement was added to the state constitution through voter approval of Amendment 3 in 2006. Since then, nine constitutional amendments (including the 2014 medical marijuana initiative) received a majority of votes in favor, but failed to reach the 60% threshold and were therefore defeated.
As of Feb. 2023, 21 states and Washington, D.C., had legalized the possession and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. In seven states, bills to legalize marijuana were enacted into law. In 15 states and Washington, D.C., voters approved ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use. The average yes vote was 57.86% and the average no vote was 42.21% with an average margin of victory of 15.65%.
Of the 15 marijuana legalization ballot measures, four received a vote of approval of 60% or higher. The measure with the highest margin of victory was Washington, D.C.’s 2014 initiative, which was approved by a vote of 70.06% to 29.94% for a margin of victory of 40.12%. The measure with the lowest margin of victory was Maine’s 2016 initiative, which was approved by a vote of 50.26% to 49.74% for a margin of victory of 0.52%.
According to campaign reports covering information through Dec. 31, 2022, Smart and Safe Florida had paid $18.02 million to Vanguard Field Strategies and Axiom Strategies for signature gathering. The next campaign finance reports are due on Feb. 10.
To qualify for the 2024 ballot, 891,589 valid signatures are due by Feb. 1, 2024. Because election officials have 30 days to verify signatures, petitions should be submitted at least one month before the verification deadline. As of February 2, 2023, Smart and Safe Florida had submitted 294,046 valid signatures, 33% of the total number of signatures needed.
Marijuana legalization initiatives targeting the 2024 ballot have also been filed in Wyoming and Nebraska.
– – –
Jackie Mitchell is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Trulieve” by Trulieve.