Prepare for expensive marijuana legalization fight in 2020

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By: Mike Vasilnda | Capitol News Service
November 19, 2019

Multiple other localities in Florida have passed ordinances creating civil penalties, rather than criminal charges, for people who are caught with small amounts of marijuana.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- The organizers behind the Make it Legal recreational marijuana amendment are closing in on 100,000 valid signatures and have said they will have enough to qualify for the 2020 election by the middle of December.

It is already promising to be a heated campaign.

A ribbon was cut as MedMen opened its first medical marijuana dispensary in the State Capitol Tuesday.

A few patients came and went, but MedMen is banking on voters approving the recreational marijuana amendment the company is bankrolling.

“A super-majority of Floridians are truly wanting this and survey after survey is saying that,” said Make it Legal Florida Chairperson Nick Hansen.

So far, MedMen and another license holder, Surterra, have already dropped $1 million each into the petition process.

They are already planning ahead for an expensive campaign.

"You starting at multiples of millions and it could be, you know, ten times that when you are done, but it really depends on where is the polling and who is the opposition,” said Hansen.

Barney Bishop is on the other side of the debate.

He said MedMen is right, it's going to be an expensive and hard fought election.

“No question that law enforcement and other conservative opponents are going to spend a lot of money to try and keep this ballot initiative from winning,” said Bishop.

Bishop said a $10 million opposition campaign would be possible.

Some state House members are already arming themselves with information to fight the amendment.

Last month, Dr. Bertha Madras a Harvard Professor of Psychobiology testified before a committee Chaired by Rep. Ray Rodrigues.

“The alarm bells are beginning to come in with marijuana, and we hope people are listening,” said Madras.

Rodrigues has been vocal in his position to legalizing recreational marijuana.

Florida is already expected to be a battleground state for the Presidency next year and likely for legal marijuana as well.

The deadline for certifying petitions is February first.

More than 766,000 are needed to get on the ballot.



 
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