Effort underway to put recreational pot on 2020 Florida ballot

Screenshot via Regulate Florida of the recreational marijuana legalization initiative.
Screenshot by Ruelle Fludd

Recreational marijuana could make its way on to the 2020 ballot in Florida. The initiative is led by Regulate Florida; 766,200 signatures are required statewide for 2020 ballot entry. According to its website, the organization is pushing for one million signatures.

Regulate Florida’s agenda is for “adult use” recreational marijuana. This means regulated use for those 21 and over, mirrored after alcohol regulations.

The organization is also looking to adopt a license policy for those who want to grow, test and sell recreational marijuana.

References to the success of marijuana as a product in states like Colorado and Washington are used as  argument points in favor of the initiative.

The site mentions a multitude of benefits that legalization of recreational marijuana will provide to Florida. “Cannabis legalization for adults will significantly increase tourism, it will provide a massive boost to the economy, thousands of new jobs will be created and it will ease the workload on law enforcement professionals,” the organization claims on its website. The claims made by Regulate Florida were not substantiated by data or facts.

The promise of a boost in the Florida economy and job market can’t be fulfilled without the amendment following the proper process for an initiative petition. Of the eight-step plan outlined by the Florida Division of Elections, Regulate Florida is working on steps five and six before the initiative is sent for Supreme Court review.

According to the 2018 Initiative Petition Handbook released by the Florida Division of Elections, “the signed forms must then be submitted to the Supervisor of Elections’ office in the county of residence of the signee…” The next step is paying the Supervisor of Elections at least 10 cents to verify the signatures. With a requirement of 766,200 signatures, it will cost more than $76,000 to get the initiative to the Supreme Court.

The majority of funding comes from the initiative’s chairman, Michael Minardi. With his own practice, Minardi Law, the attorney has worked with clients charged with cannabis crimes for more than 15 years. Minardi wasn’t available for an interview but his site states, “Michael continues to be at the forefront in Florida in educating the public on the safety of cannabis.”

Minardi and Regulate Florida have been backed by various dispensary companies in Florida. Trulieve, Liberty Health Sciences and Grow Healthy dispensaries aid in donations and recruiting volunteers to get registered voters to sign the initiative’s petition. Companies such as these have seen the economic and job market improvement caused by their presence across Florida.

While medical marijuana is separate from the recreational legalization cause, Trulieve invests and educates the public on marijuana as a whole. Kemar Daley has worked with Trulieve, a medical marijuana dispensary in Tallahassee, for over a year. Daley works with patients with schizophrenia, muscle spasms, body pains and sleeping issues and sees the potential benefit in legalizing recreational marijuana.

“We have a couple of legislators that came in and kind of hit us up and they’re moving forward with just basically seeing if we can actually get Florida as one of the states that has legalized marijuana,” said Daley. It should be noted that Daley couldn’t mention who exactly has been in contact with Trulieve.

With help from investment companies and volunteers, the initiative to get recreational marijuana on the November 2020 ballot may not be so far-fetched. The Regulate Florida site offers step-by-step instructions on how to become a volunteer and get registered voters to sign the petition here.