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Florida Marijuana Legalization Measure Has Enough Support To Pass In Internal Polling, CEO Of Company Funding Campaign Says



The CEO of a top marijuana company is pushing back against recent surveys showing insufficient support to pass a Florida legalization ballot initiative this November, claiming internal polling shows the measure ahead by a comfortable margin.

After the state Supreme Court cleared the proposal for ballot placement, rejecting a constitutional challenge from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R), two polls came out indicating that the Smart & Safe Florida campaign didn’t have the required 60 percent support for passage.

But in an interview with Cheddar on Thursday, Tulieve CEO Kim Rivers dismissed the surveys, saying “don’t believe everything you’re hearing” when it comes to the two most recent polls “in particular.”

“We would not put our stock in those polls,” she 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.”

Rivers also said during Thursday’s interview that one recent poll she was disputing included “over 10 percent” non-registered voters.

It’s unclear what she was specifically referring to, but a USA Today/Ipsos survey that was released last month disaggregated between the general public and registered voters. It 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.

Marijuana Moment reached out to Trulieve and the Smart & Safe Florida campaign for clarification. A Trulieve spokesperson said Rivers was referring to a survey that took place “this spring” without further elaborating. A campaign spokesperson declined to comment when reached by phone.

Later in the Cheddar interview, Rivers responded to a question about the market potential for her company if cannabis is legalized in Florida.

“We believe that Florida could be a $6 billion market opportunity,” she said. “We currently have just under 900,000 medical patients—but look, there’s 22 million residents and 138 million unique tourist visits in Florida. So this market could be massive.”

“Truly we are the market leader. We have 135 locations currently in the state of Florida— over three million square feet of cultivation and production capacity—so you know, for us, of course it could be a game changer,” Rivers said.

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.”

Cory Booker Visits Marijuana Manufacturer In California Amid Renewed Push For Federal Legalization Bill

Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.

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