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Another Poll Shows Florida Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative Just Shy Of Support For Passage



There continues to be majority support for a Florida marijuana legalization ballot initiative, according to a new poll commissioned by an organization that opposes the reform. But the measure is again coming up shy of the 60 percent threshold needed for passage under the state’s Constitution.

The survey done for the Florida Chamber of Commerce by Cherry Communications found that 58 percent of Florida likely voters back the legalization measure, compared to 37 percent who oppose it and five percent who are undecided.

In contrast, the survey shows that a separate abortion rights measure that will also appear on the November ballot has 61 percent support, enough to be approved.

This is the third poll to come out showing the measure falling short of support needed for passage since the state Supreme Court cleared the cannabis initiative for the ballot, rejecting a constitutional challenge from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R). The Chamber of Commerce joined the attorney general in opposing the measure.

“With 144 amendments since its creation in 1968, Florida’s constitution has long been a target of special interest groups with agendas and recreational marijuana is no different,” Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson said.

“The Florida Chamber continues to lead the fight it has fought for over 20 years against similar proposed amendments that could be addressed legislatively rather than through altering Florida’s foundational document,” he said.

The poll involved interviews with 609 Florida likely voters from April 28-May 7, with a margin of error of four percentage points. The language of the questions hasn’t been made publicly available. Marijuana Moment reached out to the Chamber of Commerce, but a representative did not respond.

A USA Today/Ipsos poll released last month that found that 56 percent of Florida registered voters and 49 percent of Florida adults overall back the cannabis measure.

A separate Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and Mainstreet Research poll found that only a 47 percent plurality of voters back the cannabis initiative, compared to 35 percent opposed and 18 percent undecided.

A previous poll from the Chamber, released in January prior to the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the measure onto the ballot, found that cannabis legalization had 57 percent support.

On Thursday, the CEO of a top marijuana company pushed back against the recent surveys, claiming internal polling shows the measure ahead by a comfortable margin.

“Don’t believe everything you’re hearing,” Tulieve CEO Kim Rivers said, adding that there are more “legitimate polls” from the past year that show the legalization measure “well over” the 60 percent threshold for passage.

Tulieve isn’t running the campaign, but it has been the main financial backer of the initiative, contributing nearly $50 million.

“Our internal numbers remain incredibly strong and closer to 70 [percent], actually than 60 [percent],” she said. “So [there’s] strong bipartisan support across the state.”

While the campaign hasn’t shared internal polling, it is the case that prior surveys have shown the initiative in a more comfortable position than the two most recent public polls did. A University of North Florida (UNF) poll released last November found nearly 70 percent of voters are in favor of the reform, for example.

Meanwhile, the Florida Republican Party officially come out against a marijuana legalization initiative over the weekend, clearing the way for Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to raise money to fund an opposition campaign against the measure.

DeSantis also previously predicted voters will reject the marijuana initiative in November and argued that passage would “reduce the quality of life” in the state.

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Economic analysts from the Florida legislature and DeSantis’s office, estimate that the marijuana legalization initiative would generate between $195.6 million and $431.3 million in new sales tax revenue annually if voters enact it. Those figures could increase considerably if lawmakers opted to impose an additional excise tax on cannabis transactions that’s similar to the ones in place in other legalized states.

If approved, the measure would change the state Constitution to allow existing medical cannabis companies in the state, such as Trulieve, the campaign’s main financial contributor, to begin selling marijuana to all adults over 21. It contains a provision that would allow—but not require—lawmakers to take steps toward the approval of additional businesses. Home cultivation by consumers would not be allowed under the proposal as drafted.

Adults would be able to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis, only five grams of which could be marijuana concentrate products. The three-page measure also omits equity provisions favored by advocates, such as expungements or other relief for people with prior cannabis convictions.

Nearly all of the campaign’s financial backing has come from existing medical marijuana businesses, predominantly multi-state operators. Recently, the Florida Division of Elections (DOE) released the campaign finance activity report from the first quarter of the year, showing nearly $15 million in new contributions.

Trulieve, the main financial backer of the initiative, led the pack again with $9.225 million in donations during the first quarter. That follows the company previously contributing about $40 million as advocates worked to collect more than one million signatures to qualify for ballot placement.

The company’s CEO said recently that, contrary to the governor’s claims, legalization could actually “improve quality of life” for residents.

Here’s what the Smart & Safe Florida marijuana legalization initiative would accomplish:

  • Adults 21 and older could purchase and possess up to three ounces of cannabis for personal use. The cap for marijuana concentrates would be five grams.
  • Medical cannabis dispensaries could “acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell, and distribute marijuana products and marijuana accessories to adults for personal use.”
  • The legislature would be authorized—but not required—to approve additional entities that are not currently licensed cannabis dispensaries.
  • The initiative specifies that nothing in the proposal prevents the legislature from “enacting laws that are consistent with this amendment.”
  • The amendment further clarifies that nothing about the proposal “changes federal law,” which seems to be an effort to avoid past legal challenges about misleading ballot language.
  • There are no provisions for home cultivation, expungement of prior records or social equity.
  • The measure would take effect six months following approval by voters.

Here’s the full text of the ballot title and summary:

“Allows adults 21 years or older to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption by smoking, ingestion, or otherwise; allows Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers, and other state licensed entities, to acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell, and distribute such products and accessories. Applies to Florida law; does not change, or immunize violations of, federal law. Establishes possession limits for personal use. Allows consistent legislation. Defines terms. Provides effective date.”

Smart & Safe Florida announced in March that it was working to form a coalition of veterans to build voter support for the reform. The campaign has since formally launched that initiative.

Despite his opposition to the initiative, DeSantis, a former GOP presidential candidate who dropped out of the race in January, previously accurately predicted that the state’s highest court would ultimately allow the measure on November’s ballot.

DeSantis also weighed in on another relevant cannabis policy issue earlier this year when, while still a presidential candidate, he said that he doesn’t believe the federal gun ban for state-legal marijuana consumers is constitutional. Florida’s former agriculture commission, Nikki Fried, brought a lawsuit against the Biden administration over the rule, though the governor did not get involved.

Prior to dropping out, DeSantis also said that if elected president, he would “respect the decisions that states make” on marijuana legalization despite his personal view that the reform has a “negative impact.”

DEA Appears To Question Marijuana’s Medical Value Despite Rescheduling Recommendation

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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