If a proposed constitutional amendment asking voters to legalize recreational marijuana can make it onto the 2020 ballot, it is likely to be overwhelmingly adopted.
In fact, according to a recent survey, the biggest hurdle for legalization proponents won’t be securing the necessary 60 percent for passage, but in meeting new requirements imposed by the Republican-controlled Legislature this year that make it more difficult and expensive for petition sponsors to get prospective measures onto ballots
In a July 16-18 survey of 800 “likely 2020 voters” conducted by Ft. Lauderdale-based Fabrizio, Lee & Associates (FLA), 67 percent said they favored legalizing the use of marijuana for adults age 21 or over.
Of the two thirds who said they support ending marijuana prohibition in Florida, 45 percent strongly favored legalization and 22 percent said they somewhat favored.
Only 29 percent – 19 percent “strongly” – in the survey opposed legalization. The margin of error in the poll is 3.46 percent.
“Two thirds of Florida voters favor marijuana legalization for adults 21 and over, which is vital as a starting position,” FLA partners David Lee and Tony Fabrizio said in a joint statement discussing the survey.
According to FLA’s website, Fabrizio is “one of the nation’s leading GOP pollsters and strategists” who has served as chief pollster on four Presidential campaigns, “most notably and recently Donald Trump’s successful 2016 upset victory.”
Lee, his FLA biography notes, “played a key role as one of the pollsters on Donald Trump’s successful 2016 presidential campaign where he worked as the lead pollster in Florida and Wisconsin.”
The FLA survey closely tracks results of a June Quinnipiac University poll that fixed support for marijuana legalization among likely Florida voters at 65 percent.
The poll was financed by the Make it Legal Florida Committee, chaired by MedMen Southeast Region Director of Government Affairs Nick Hansen, one of three groups sponsoring marijuana legalization petition drives.
Make It Legal’s "Adult Use Of Marijuana" measure was filed with the state’s Division of Elections (DOE) on Aug. 23. It has not filed any petitions or filed any campaign contribution documentation as yet with the DOE.
Prospective ballot measures must collect 766,200 verified registered voter signatures by Feb. 1, 2020, in order to be presented to voters.
Floridians For Freedom’s "Right Of Adults To Cannabis" petition drive has been underway since August 2015. As of Friday, it had collected 24,756 petition signatures.
The only one of the three to meet the 76,632 signature threshold to qualify for a mandated Supreme Court and review of its prospective ballot language and newly required financial impact review is Sensible Florida’s "Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol to Establish Age, Licensing, and Other Restrictions" petition drive.
Launched in March 2016, Sensible Florida, sponsored by Regulate Florida, has gathered 88,114 signatures to meet that preliminary threshold.
Make It Legal’s ballot proposal would legalize recreational marijuana use among adults 21 and older and allow medical marijuana dispensaries to distribute the drug as long is it was contained in childproof packaging and not marketed to children. The proposed amendment would apply to the possession, display, and transport of marijuana in quantities up to 2.5 ounces and would also apply to marijuana accessories.
Regulate Florida’s proposal seeks to regulate recreational marijuana similarly to alcohol while Floridians for Freedom’s petition calls for deregulating marijuana, its only stipulation that adults not sell it to minors.
During the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers adopted a slate of new rules regulating petition-gathering that went into effect on July 7.
The new rules essentially extend the state’s voter registration system for absentee ballots to petition-gathering, requiring every citizen initiative organization sponsoring a signature-drive have its own numbered, serialized petition provided by county elections offices.
It requires petition-gathers to register with the state and have a permanent Florida address, effectively barring out-of-state entities from ballot campaigns. The bill prohibits signature gatherers from being paid on a per-petition basis.
Petition-gatherers now say they’ll need at least 1.1 million signatures to ensure 766,320 are verified, and will need to finish collecting signatures by the end of 2019 to give elections supervisors the required 30 days to verify them before Feb. 1.