420 with CNW — Activists Resume Push to Legalize Recreational Cannabis in Florida

December 10, 2020 16:25:22

In January of this year, activists behind the Make It Legal Florida campaign announced that they would postpone their pursuit of cannabis legalization in the state until 2022. The campaign had raised and spent more than $8 million, ultimately collecting 555,000 valid signatures. However, this was more than 200,000 signatures shy of the required 766,000 signatures, and the marijuana legalization initiative did not make it to the September ballot.

Make it Legal Florida has now resumed its bid to place a cannabis legalization initiative on the 2022 ballot. The 550,000 signatures it managed to collect are valid for two years from the collection date, so the activists will only have to collect slightly more than 200,000 signatures. The campaign will need millions in contributions to collect enough signatures, reports the Tallahassee Democrat. Additionally, the Florida Supreme Court will have to clear a ballot review language before the initiative qualifies for the 2022 ballot.

If it is passed, the legalization measure would allow people aged 21 years and older to purchase, possess and transport up to five ounces of cannabis and cannabis accessories. Existing medical cannabis dispensaries would be allowed to sell cannabis and cannabis accessories as long as the products are in childproof packaging and clearly labeled. The measure would also prohibit cannabis use in defined public places and  well as marketing or advertising targeting anyone under 21.

Floridians voted in favor of medical cannabis back in 2016, and four years later, the state medical cannabis program has more than 400,000 registered users with qualifying medical conditions. Taylor Behl, policy director of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, says that the program has shown residents that medical cannabis can be profitable as well as therapeutic. Consequently, folks who don’t suffer from qualifying conditions are also looking to cannabis for relief.

However, Republican lawmakers in the state have remained staunchly opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana. The Attorney General, House and Senate Leadership, as well as the Florida Chamber of Commerce have all filed briefs stating that the ballot language is misleading. These groups argue that cannabis is still prohibited at the federal level, and since the initiative doesn’t include this crucial fact in its text, it is invalid.

Republican lawmakers have also questioned whether allowing recreational cannabis will encourage the use of illicit drugs. During a House meeting late last year, then State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan asked a witness who was testifying about Colorado’s recreational cannabis program whether THC was a gateway drug.

However, despite the objections from Republican lawmakers, Hansen believes the measure will clear the judicial review and appear on the 2022 ballot.

In states where cannabis is already legal, companies are establishing themselves and serving their target clients. For example, Gage Cannabis Co. set up shop in Michigan and is on course to be a leader in that market.

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