While 2019 was predicted to be a banner year in the push to legalize marijuana in more parts of the United States, aside from Illinois making admirable advancements in this department, the year for cannabis has been nothing short of a dead dog. New York and New Jersey screwed the pooch earlier this year when it came time to establish a taxed and regulated pot market. And regardless of what you might have heard, Congress, as a whole, is nowhere even close to marijuana-friendly.
It now seems that 2020 will more likely be the year when the marijuana movement makes significant strides and becomes more widespread across the country. And from where we are sitting, Florida could be one of the first to get it done.
The cannabis advocacy group Regulate Florida has been pushing to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the Sunshine State for years. But it has never successfully made it far enough along in the ballot initiative process to be considered. Yet, things have changed, or at least they are changing, and now the organization is poised to get the question of legal weed put on the ballot in the 2020 election. The campaign announced last week that it has officially secured nearly 77,000 verified signatures, putting them well on their way to allow voters to decide next November whether they are ready to amend the state’s constitution and clear a space for legal weed.
“We have a long way to go to get it on the ballot, but we will GET IT DONE TOGETHER!!!” the organization wrote in its newsletter. “TODAY IS THE 1st VICTORY OF MANY TO COME!!!”
But the process of getting a marijuana initiative approved in Florida is tricky. Regulate Florida must now get the language of its proposal cleared by the Florida Supreme Court. And let’s just say that part of the process goes off without a hitch. Well, the group still has a long road ahead before Floridians 21 and over are enjoying legal weed in the same way as 11 other states. If the state’s highest court gives the initiative its blessing, the group will then be charged with collecting another 766,200 signatures before the measure would be allowed to officially advance to the ballot. The group also faces additional challenges once the language goes before Florida officials.
Some recent changes to the ballot initiative process, a ploy headed up by Republican lawmakers, could make it more difficult than usual for Regulate Florida to come through with a win. The group will have less time than in years past to collect the signatures necessary to move forward. It will also have to contend with the restrictions put into place concerning signature collecting and campaign donations. Let’s just say getting through the red tape unscathed isn’t going to be easy.
It is also worth mentioning that these types of voter initiative campaigns are super expensive (costing millions of dollars) so deep pocketed supporters will be essential at some point to drive it home.
Still, the state appears ready to make the leap from medical to fully legal. A recent poll from Quinnipiac University finds that 65% of Florida voters are in favor of “allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.” While there are no guarantees, we believe if Regulate Florida has what it takes to face the obstacles ahead and get the initiative on the ballot, the voters will turn out in support. Florida would need 60 percent of the vote to get it on the books.