An effort to legalize marijuana for adult use in Florida cleared an initial hurdle on Monday.
Activists collected enough verified signatures on petitions in support of a proposed cannabis legalization constitutional amendment to trigger a state Supreme Court review of the initiative’s language. This marks one of the first official steps on the path to getting legalization on Florida’s 2020 ballot.
Regulate Florida has gathered enough signatures to trigger the Florida Supreme Court to review its language. We need to continue collecting and sharing it to get to the ballot for 2020. pic.twitter.com/Zj0dIrGAsI
— NORML of Florida (@NORMLFlorida) July 29, 2019
That said, if the court approves the language, Regulate Florida will still face a significant challenge to put the question of legalization before voters. In order to qualify for the ballot, the group will have to gather a total of 766,200 valid signatures—roughly 10 times what they’ve collected so far.
“This is a MILESTONE in Florida and WE ARE DEDICATED TO GETTING THIS ON THE BALLOT IN 2020!!!” Regulate Florida board members wrote in an email to supporters. “We have a long way to go to get it on the ballot but we will GET IT DONE TOGETHER!!!”
As Regulate Florida notes on its website, signature gathering is a costly endeavor. The price of printing, collecting and validating each petition is estimated to be about $2. And reform advocates so far haven’t received financial support for this effort from personal injury attorney John Morgan, who bankrolled the state’s successful 2016 medical cannabis legalization initiative as well as a prior 2014 attempt.
Morgan is instead focusing this year on a proposal to raise the minimum wage and told The Miami Herald that he doesn’t think the state has the appetite for recreational legalization—although 65 percent of Florida voters said they support ending cannabis prohibition in a June poll.
But activists are emboldened, arguing that voters are ready to do what lawmakers have repeatedly failed at. Legalization legislation introduced earlier this year stalled and died without ever receiving a hearing, for example.
Regulate Florida is also pitching its legalization ballot measure as a boost for medical cannabis patients, emphasizing that it would allow for home cultivation so patients can grow their own medicine. The group is seeking volunteers to distribute and collect signed petitions and for donations to fund the paid petitioning process.
Photo by Sam Doucette on Unsplash.