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Florida Marijuana Campaign Releases Four Ads To Build Support For Legalization Ballot Initiative Amid Underwhelming Polls

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As recent polling shows a Florida marijuana legalization ballot initiative coming up short on support for passage, the campaign behind the measure has released four new ads to educate voters and help close the gap ahead of the November election.

Smart & Safe Florida said on Tuesday that the ads will air statewide across “broadcast, cable, streaming, radio and digital platforms.”

The campaign said the ads feature Florida voters, “including moms, businesspeople, and a former law enforcement officer and Vietnam War veteran,” who “believe adult Floridians deserve the individual freedom to consume safe, regulated marijuana.”

For the initial ad buy, the campaign spent more than $5 million. One of the ads in one minute long, while the other three are 30-second spots.

“Vote Yes”

This ad includes several speakers and highlights how cannabis is already available in Florida on the illegal market, saying that it is “produced using toxic chemicals and can be laced with dangerous drugs like fentanyl.” Amendment 3 gives adults access to legal, safe marijuana and the freedom to make their own choices,” it says.

“Freedom”

This spot features a military veteran saying that the state’s “outdate marijuana laws have cost too many their freedom.”

The legalization measure, he says, is “a step towards justice and freedom for all Floridians.”

“Available”

This ad shows an older woman saying that “marijuana is already available on the streets, and you have no idea what’s in it.”

She points out that the legalization measure would address that by mandating lab testing, enacting regulations to protect kids and generating revenue to fund police and schools.

“Clear Choice”

This spot shows a man saying that voters have a “clear choice” in November to “continue to allow cartel criminals to profit from illegal marijuana laced with toxic chemicals and dangerous drugs” or instead enact legalization to give adults freedom while creating tax money to fund “better schools and safer communities.”

The campaign’s choice to feature Army veteran in two of the ads underscores its interest in showcasing support from the military population. Smart & Safe Florida announced in March that it was working to form a coalition of veterans to build voter support for the reform, and the campaign has since formally launched that initiative.

“A smart and safe Florida means a regulated marijuana market where Floridians no longer need to turn to illicit cartel-trafficked products on the streets,” Smart & Safe Florida spokesperson Morgan Hill said in a press release.

“More than half of Americans already enjoy access to safe, regulated marijuana, and we believe Floridians deserve that same freedom,” she said. “Our campaign in support of Amendment 3 is in full swing, and we’re excited to continue connecting with voters through to November.”

Based on recent surveys, the campaign will need to prioritize that outreach in order to get at least 60 percent of the vote required for passage. Three polls that have been released since the state Supreme Court cleared the initiative for the ballot each show the measure coming up short of that steep threshold.

For example, a survey that was 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.

That said, the CEO of a top marijuana company that’s financially supported the campaign 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.

While the campaign hasn’t shared its 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 last week, 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.”

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.”

Ohio Lawmakers Approve Rules Allowing Adult-Use Marijuana Sales To Start Next Month

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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