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Florida Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measure Has More Support Than DeSantis, Who Is Campaigning Against It, Poll Shows

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Two in three Florida voters, including a majority of Republicans, support a marijuana legalization initiative that’s on the November ballot, a new Fox News poll finds. In fact, the cannabis measure is more popular among voters than is Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is campaigning against it.

The survey found that 66 percent of voters back the marijuana initiative—more than enough to meet the 60 percent threshold to pass the constitutional amendment under state laws.

Democrats are the most supportive of the legalization measure at 76 percent, followed by independents 71 percent and Republicans 57 percent. A majority of every demographic surveyed said they back the reform, with the exception of those aged 65 and older.

By contrast, 52 percent of voters said that they either strongly or somewhat approve of the job DeSantis is doing as governor—a 14 percent point gap in support compared to marijuana legalization.

It’s a datapoint that calls into question the political wisdom of DeSantis’s crusade against the cannabis measure.

“Floridians want and deserve the same right to consume recreational marijuana that more than half the country already enjoys,” Morgan Hill, spokesperson for the Smart & Safe Florida campaign, said in a press release. “This poll reflects what we at Smart & Safe Florida know to be true: legalizing recreational adult-use marijuana is good for Floridians’ health, safety, and individual freedom.”

The Fox News survey involved interviews with 1,075 registered voters in Florida from June 1-4, with a +/-3 percentage point margin of error.

Meanwhile, it was recently reported that DeSantis is planning to veto a bill that would ban consumable hemp-derived cannabinoid products such as delta-8 THC, apparently because he’s hoping the hemp industry will help finance the marijuana opposition campaign.

The governor has argued that the state shouldn’t go beyond the existing medical cannabis program and that broader reform would negatively impact the quality of life for Floridians. The Florida Republican Party also formally came out against Amendment 3 last month.

Kim Rivers, the chief executive of the multi-state cannabis operator Trulieve that’s financially supporting the Smart & Safe Florida campaign, said recently that she remains confident DeSantis will respect the will of the people and implement the legalization initiative if voters approve it at the ballot.

She also challenged several other surveys that were released in the weeks since the Florida Supreme Court cleared the initiative for ballot placement. She reiterated that internal polls show the measure passing with a comfortable margin.

Smart & Safe Florida separately 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.

The campaign additionally released an ad this week arguing that cannabis currently available on the state’s illicit market is dangerously unregulated.

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.

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 also 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.

Ohio Is Now Accepting Applications For Licenses To Sell Recreational Marijuana As Soon As This Month

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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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