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Florida Marijuana Legalization Initiative Lacks Support To Pass In Second Poll In Less Than A Week



Another new poll is showing signs of trouble for a Florida marijuana legalization initiative that will appear on the November ballot—this one showing that fewer than 50 percent of voters currently intend to support the measure.

This is the second poll released in the last week showing insufficient support for approval. In order to pass on the ballot, the constitutional amendment needs to reach a high 60 percent threshold.

The latest survey from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and Mainstreet Research found that a 47 percent plurality of voters back the cannabis initiative, compared to 35 percent opposed and 18 percent undecided.

A demographic breakdown shows that Democrats are more supportive of the reform (58 percent) than Republicans (39 percent), but even that percentage is relatively low for Democrats, who at the national level support legalization at 87 percent, according to a Gallup poll from last September.

Interestingly, the survey found that voters aged 35-49 are more strongly in favor of Amendment 3 (68 percent) compared to those between the ages of 18 and 34 (48 percent). Typically, legalization polling shows support skewing younger. Only 36 percent of voters over the age of 65 back the marijuana initiative.

“Age plays a salient role, with younger cohorts showing higher support,” Dukhong Kim, an associate professor of political science at FAU, said in a press release.

The survey involved interviews with 865 Florida voters from April 15-17, with a +/-3.3 percentage point margin of error.

This is the second poll of the Florida marijuana legalization measure to come out in less than a week, and it follows the state Supreme Court officially clearing the initiative for the ballot after rejecting the state attorney general’s constitutional challenge.

The last survey from USA Today/Ipsos survey found that 56 percent of Florida registered voters back the cannabis proposal, which is still below the 60 percent threshold required for enactment.

That said, there has been a mix of polling over the last year on the marijuana legalization initiative, with certain surveys signaling that there is enough support for approval.

The latest polling, however, underscores both the challenges and opportunities for the Smart & Safe Florida campaign in the months ahead as they enter into the next phase of outreach and education.

Multiple marijuana companies are working to support that effort, donating a total of nearly $15 million to the campaign, including several multi-state operators, according to state filings that were released last week.

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.

Meanwhile, the campaign is now reaching out to military veterans in an effort to build voter support for the the reform.

If Florida voters approve a marijuana legalization initiative at the ballot, that could actually “improve quality of life” for residents—in contrast with the governor’s recent comments to the contrary—the CEO of Trulieve said last week.

“The sky has not fallen” with Florida’s implementation of medical cannabis legalization under an earlier initiative, “and folks see that choice is a good thing,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said during an interview on The Dales Report’s “Trade To Black” podcast.

Will Floridians ultimately pass the measure with at least 60 percent of the vote as is required for constitutional amendments in the state? Rivers says, “Hell yes.”

The comments about quality-of-life implications of cannabis legalization follow Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) prediction that voters will reject the marijuana initiative this November. He called the proposal “radical” and argued that it will “reduce the quality of life” in the state.

DeSantis, for his part, said earlier this month that enactment of the reform would mean “this state will start to smell like marijuana in our cities and towns,” which seems to be a particular concern for the governor, who has previously complained about the smell of cannabis in other jurisdictions.

“It will reduce the quality of life,” he said, adding that Florida already has a medical cannabis program that his administration implemented following voter approval of the reform in 2016.

“Do we really need to do more with that?” he asked. “Do we want to have more marijuana in our communities? I don’t think it’ll work out well, but it is a very, very broad amendment.”

Rivers said that “DeSantis has been consistent for a long time around his comments around the smell and around, you know, not necessarily being excited about having marijuana everywhere. I think there’s some additional education that needs to happen there, which we’ve been working on.”

The governor again attacked the proposal on Wednesday, warning that the changes would be “not good for families” and “not good for [the] elderly.”

As drafted, the measure if approved would change the state Constitution to allow existing medical cannabis companies in the state like Trulieve 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 21 and older would be able to purchase and possess up to three ounces 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.

Separately, economic analysts from the Florida legislature and the the governor’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. And 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.

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.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,400 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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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.”

The Florida Chamber of Commerce released a poll in January showing that a marijuana legalization initiative that may appear on the November ballot enjoys majority support from likely voters—but not quite enough to meet the state’s steep 60 percent threshold for passage.

Meanwhile, there’s significant interest in how former President Donald Trump, a Florida resident, will vote on the cannabis initiative, and whether he will publicly support or oppose it.

Also, a Florida bill that sought to cap THC potency if voters approved the legalization initiative at the ballot died this session, much to the relief of cannabis advocates and stakeholders.

Legislation to restrict consumable hemp products and ban delta-8 THC was approved by lawmakers and awaits DeSantis’s action.

Separately, a House subcommittee recently advanced a medical marijuana bill that would waive patient registration and renewal fees for service-disabled military veterans.

Despite his opposition to the initiative, DeSantis, the 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.

Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) successfully petitioned justices to prevent an earlier 2022 legalization initiative from receiving voter consideration.

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.”

Americans Use Marijuana At Nearly The Same Rate In Legal And Non-Legal States, Suggesting Criminalization Doesn’t ‘Curtail’ Consumption, Gallup Poll Finds

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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