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Florida Poll Confirms Support for 2020 Measures Legalizing Marijuana – But Which One?

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TALLAHASSEE –  With two prospective marijuana legalization measures vying for space on the November 2020 ballot, another poll of likely voters has confirmed there is strong bipartisan support for allowing adult recreational use in Florida.

In a University of North Florida (UNF) poll released Thursday, 64 percent of respondents said they support making adult-use marijuana legal.

The poll, commissioned by MadMen, a financer of the "Make It Legal Florida" proposed constitutional amendment to end marijuana prohibition in Florida, is one of at least three surveys of state voters since June that show a consistent super-majority support for legalization.

A poll of 800 Florida voters commissioned by MedMen in July showed 67 percent would support legalizing cannabis for adults. A June Quinnipiac University poll fixed support for marijuana legalization among likely Florida voters at 65 percent.

According to the recent UNF poll, 54 percent who support legalizing adult-use marijuana are Republicans, 73 percent are Democrats and 64 percent are independent.

“Support continues to grow for the 'Make it Legal Florida' ballot initiative and we remain confident on our ability to make Florida’s ballot,” Make it Legal Florida Chair Nick Hansen said Thursday. “Voters are being vocal about what they want and we look forward to continuing the momentum to bring adults in Florida access to cannabis.”

Hansen is also the Southeast Region Director of Government Affairs for MadMen, a California-based corporation that entered the state’s burgeoning medical marijuana market last year when it purchased a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) license from Treadwell Nursery for $53 million. It plans on opening 25 Florida medical marijuana dispensaries.

Make It Legal Florida’s (MILF) "Adult Use Of Marijuana" measure was filed with the state’s Division of Elections [DOE] on Aug. 23.

It would allow adults 21 and older to purchase cannabis for any reason from current and future MMTCs as long as it is in childproof packaging and not advertised to anyone younger than 21.

Unlike an older Sensible Florida campaign to legalize adult marijuana, MILF’s proposed amendment would require cannabis sales to occur within the state’s existing MMTC and marijuana dispensary system and is supported by cannabis corporations.

MILF has received $1.625 million in campaign donations, including $649,500 from MadMen and $545,000 from Surterra Wellness, and claims to have collected more than 100,000 signatures in its first 20 days.

As of Thursday, the DOE website notched MILF’s “verified” signature count at 17,784 – far below the 76,632 necessary to secure a required Supreme Court review and economic analysis by the state’s Financial Impact Estimating Committee (FIEC).

The measure would need to collect 766,200 valid signatures by Feb. 1 to get onto the November 2020 ballot.

The "Sensible Florida" proposal, sponsored by Regulate Florida, has been petitioning since 2016. It varies from MILF’s measure in that it only calls for regulating marijuana “similarly to alcohol,” allowing those 21 to legally consume it and permitting people to grow their own.

As of Thursday, it had secured 91,849 verified signatures to qualify for the legal and financial reviews and received $199,140.64 in contributions, mostly from small donors.

Unlike MILF’s measure, however, Sensible Florida’s proposal has qualified for the Supreme Court review and FEIC analysis.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moore has filed a challenge to Sensible Florida’s measure with the Supreme Court, arguing its ballot summary is too long and will mislead voters.

Last week, the state’s Financial Impact Estimating Committee (FIEC) hazily calculated that legalization under Sensible Florida’s measure would create a $2.1 billion retail market and generate $128 million in state sales tax dollars.

The FEIC estimated another $38 million in sales tax would be generated by $634 million in tourist and conventioneer purchases of legal recreational marijuana.

However, the state economists admitted any financial impact estimate would have to be written in pencil since there are many unknowns about what legalization would look like, especially its first few years.

Among the flaws in the financial impact assessment cited by Office of Economic & Demographic Research Chief Legislative Economist Amy Baker on Oct. 18 is the forecast model assumes no hold-ups and that supply will meet demand instantly.

The FEIC assessment cannot anticipate inevitable delays as rules are formulated nor can it anticipate how the market will develop, Baker said.

According to that model, by fiscal year 2022, 55,000 jobs could be created in the state’s marijuana industry, with around 50,000 new jobs created every year through fiscal year 2026.

This piece appeared in the The Center Square and was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.

Layout and graphic added by the Observer | Photo: DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

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