Florida legalized marijuana: Signatures pile up for recreational pot amendment


Florida legalized marijuana: Signatures pile up for recreational pot amendment

Fox 4

There’s a major push to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida.

There’s a petition to get an amendment on the 2020 ballot and it’s now under supreme court review after getting enough signatures.

Make It Legal Florida , a political action committee, filed the petition.

They have more than 400,000 signatures.

They want to give adults who are 21 years old and older access to recreational marijuana.

The chairman said it will boost the economy.

"It will create not only jobs and a better economic outcome through tax revenues but we will make happier and healthier lives for those who have the ability to purchase it in a regulated safe dispensary," said Nick Hansen, the chairman of Make It Legal Florida.

However, Nick Garulay with My Florida Green said there’s not enough product or dispensaries for both medical and recreational use, which will ultimately hurt patients who need the medicine.

“I personally feel it’s a selfish move to allow recreational happen when we haven’t really ironed out the medical program,” said Garulay.

He said there’s a shortage of smokable and other medical marijuana products right now.

Darby Neil said she uses medical marijuana to help with her migraines. She’s concerned that if recreational marijuana is legalized, she will have trouble getting the medicine she needs.

“I’m worried about if it passes. If I go to a dispensary to get something for my migraine and I’m relying on that medicine, I might lose it to someone who just wants to get high and is buying it for the fun of it,” said Neil.

Two things need to happen in order for this to be on the 2020 ballot.

The state’s supreme court needs to approve the amendment and 766,000 verified signatures on the petition need to be collected by February 1st.

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Proposed amendment to legalize recreational marijuana a step closer to 2020 ballot


Proposed amendment to legalize recreational marijuana a step closer to 2020 ballot

Fox 435 Orlando

Make it Legal Florida on Wednesday announced their effort to provide regulated access to recreational marijuana to adults 21 and older has officially reached the required 76,632 signatures to achieve a judicial review of their constitutional amendment language.

The Make it Legal Florida ballot initiative had gathered a total of nearly 390,000 signatures as of November 13, a majority of which still must be verified.

“We are overwhelmed by the support the Make it Legal Florida effort has received around the state from Florida voters who believe adults should have access to regulated cannabis products,” said Nick Hansen, Chairman of Make it Legal Florida. “We are continuing to deliver signatures for validation, and we are confident we will meet the deadline for Florida’s 2020 ballot.”

RELATED: House Panel seeks insight from Oregon on pot problems

Make it Legal Florida was formed as a committee in 2019 for the purpose of proposing a constitutional amendment in 2020 to legalize the adult-use of cannabis in Florida. Specifically, the amendment would allow adults 21 and older in Florida to purchase cannabis for any reason from current and future licensed and regulated Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs), as long as it is in childproof packaging and not advertised to anyone younger than 21. Learn more at

A total of 766,200 verified signatures must be received by February 1, 2020, in order to appear on next year's ballot.

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Supporters have high hopes for recreational marijuana in Florida as petition drive kicks off


Supporters have high hopes for recreational marijuana in Florida as petition drive kicks off

Sun Sentinel

A new petition drive to legalize recreational marijuana has gathered 100,000 signatures in its first 20 days, giving supporters high hopes that Florida could be on its way to joining other states in ending the prohibition of cannabis.

The goal is to put the legalization question before Florida voters in next year’s election, said Nick Hansen, chairman of Make It Legal Florida, the group circulating the petition.

“The response has been absolutely tremendous,” said Hansen, who has worked in politics for more than a decade. “I have never seen this level of interest from this number of voters across the state this quickly.”

Make It Legal Florida will need to collect 766,200 signatures from registered voters and pass a Florida Supreme Court review for the item to be placed on the 2020 ballot. Then at least 60% voters would have to support the amendment for pot to be legalized for recreational use in Florida.

Make It Legal Florida’s political committee received state approval on Sept. 6. The signatures collected so far still must be verified by county election offices to officially count. Once 76,632 signatures are verified, a Supreme Court review will be triggered.

A key part of Make It Legal’s strategy has been a mailing campaign. Voters are being sent petitions to complete and return by mail. Paid signature gatherers are also staking out concerts, sporting contests and other events.

The amendment would allow adults 21 and older in Florida to purchase cannabis for any reason from licensed medical marijuana treatment centers as long as it is in childproof packaging and not advertised to anyone younger than 21.

A group called Regulate Florida is also circulating a petition that would legalize marijuana. Unlike Make It Legal Florida’s proposal, Regulate Florida would allow Floridians to grow their own marijuana.

“Our whole goal is to give this plant back to the people,” said Michael Minardi, an attorney who is leading the Regulate Florida effort.

Regulate Florida received state approval in March 2016 and has secured 91,236 verified signatures. Attorney General Ashley Moody is challenging Regulate Florida’s initiative, arguing that its ballot summary is too long and will mislead voters. Minardi said he thinks the description is sufficient and will pass legal review.

Regulate Florida isn’t as well funded as the Make It Legal campaign. Regulate Florida has raised $177,883, primarily from small donors. Two medical marijuana providers are bankrolling Make It Legal Florida. M.M. Enterprises LLC, doing business as MedMen, has contributed $649,500, Surterra Wellness has chipped in another $545,000.

About 71% Florida voters approved medical marijuana in 2016. About 65 percent of Florida voters support legal recreational pot, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released in June.

Pollsters called it “an all-time high” in the state.

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Petition to legalize marijuana in Florida could be coming to your mailbox


Petition to legalize marijuana in Florida could be coming to your mailbox

Orlando Sentinel

Supporting an amendment to make recreational marijuana legal in Florida could as easy as checking your mailbox.

Make It Legal Florida is mailing out fliers that contain petitions designed to get pot legalization on the 2020 ballot.

The petition has the voter’s name and address already filled out. He or she would simply need to sign, date and send it back, with postage prepaid.

Make it Legal Florida, which registered with the state on Sept. 6, has so far reported nearly $1.2 million in backing from two of the medical marijuana companies in the state, MedMen and Surterra Holdings.

Its amendment would legalize marijuana for adults age 21 and up but would only allow distribution through designated medical marijuana treatment centers like those currently run by MedMen, Surterra and other companies.

As of Tuesday, Make It Legal Florida had not yet certified any signatures with the state.

Through a spokeswoman, Nick Hansen, chairman of Make It Legal Florida, declined to be interviewed about how many mailers are going out and to which addresses.

But in a statement, he said, "We are making it easier than ever for Florida voters to make their voices heard. Pre-qualified Florida voters will receive a personalized mail piece with their name and address already printed on the form so all they have to do is sign, date and return.''

The statement also pointed out that Make It Legal has hired paid petition gatherers and that the petition also is available at

Another pro-legal pot group, Regulate Florida, has an amendment that also would legalize marijuana for adults over age 21 and allow Floridians to grow their own marijuana.

That group has been gathering petitions to get on the 2020 ballot for the past two years, having collected about 88,000 unofficial signatures of the 766,200 needed to get on the ballot.

That was enough to get it looked at by the attorney general in advance of a review by the state Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Ashley Moody objected to the 10-page amendment, calling it misleading and too long to be summarized in the required 75 words on the ballot.

Any amendment that makes the ballot has to get support from 60% of voters to become a part of the constitution.

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MedMen, Surterra seed first $1 million to 2020 recreational pot push


MedMen, Surterra seed first $1 million to 2020 recreational pot push

Florida Politics

Make It Legal Florida, a political committee devoted to a constitutional amendment that would legalize cannabis, reported its first month of fundraising Tuesday.

If August is any sign, the committee won’t lack for resources, as two major players in the medical space anted up big.

Of the $1.09 million raised, MedMenand Surterra Holdings each contributed $545,000.

MedMen’s investment should not have been a surprise.

The Make It Legal political committee is chaired by Nick Hansen, a former longtime adviser to GOP state Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg and current Southeastern Director of Government Affairs for MedMen.

Surterra, very active in Florida’s medical cannabis sector, would (like other medical marijuana treatment centers) stand to benefit if the Make It Legal proposition resonated with at least 60 percent of the voters in November 2020.

The initiative would permit those 21 and older to possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis and accessories. expanding the scope of medical marijuana treatment centers to recreational sales. Public use of the herb would not be permitted.

The Make It Legal proposal will need 766,200 signatures to make the ballot, suggesting that the money raised will be moved quickly toward that effort.

Meanwhile, a second cannabis legalization proposal is also in the works, but it is struggling for financial resources.

The Sensible Florida initiative would allow “home grow,” and makes no special carveouts for the corporate players in the medical cannabis space.

Thus far, Sensible Florida has just over 88,000 petitions signed. Progress looks to be slow, given that August was the second straight month in which the political committee raised less than $10,000.

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New ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Florida is on its way


New ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Florida is on its way

Pensacola News Journal

Well, it took longer than expected but it appears that we’re about to legalize marijuana use in Florida.

Not medicinal marijuana, which voters approved a couple years ago. Next year, if a new public petition drive succeeds in getting its initiative on the ballot, Floridians will probably vote to stop arresting people who get high just for the fun of it.

And if not in 2020, then in 2022 or 2024. It’s going to happen.

About 50 years ago, when I was in college, our generation was whining that pot ought to be legal. Yeah, we’d legalize it when we took over. Far out.

We did take over, as governors and legislators and even a president who didn’t inhale, and we decriminalized the drug in many jurisdictions, reduced possession to a misdemeanor and cut criminal penalties that were enacted by our grandparents.

More recently, evidence of some cannabis benefits overcame our “Reefer Madness” hysteria, and states began legalizing the stuff for therapeutic purposes. But that took two trips to the polls in Florida, and even when 71 percent approved medicinal marijuana, the Legislature tried to thwart the public will with restrictive implementing requirements.

As usual in Florida, the Legislature’s refusal to do something the public wants (or at least no longer doesn’t want) has resulted in a petition campaign for a statewide referendum. A pot-industry corporation out of California, MedMen, recently began a petition-gathering effort to round up the required 766,200 voter signatures for a constitutional amendment permitting adults to “possess, use, purchase, display and transport” up to 2.5 ounces of the drug.

There was already a campaign committee, Regulate Florida, that tried for years to get its own version of legalization on the ballot. The Fort Myers News-Press reported that Regulate Florida claims to have collected more than 85,000 signatures for its petition.

MedMen, which has 37 retail locations in a dozen states, has a long way to go and a short time to get there. Campaign committees have less than six months to get their signatures certified by county elections supervisors.

They also have to get past the state Supreme Court, which rules on the sufficiency of a petition’s ballot language and compliance with a single-subject rule. It’s a complex and costly process, even before they get to the purely political phase of selling the idea in next year’s campaign.

But the “Make It Legal” campaign will have a lot of money and polls indicate that the public is ready for legalization. Assuming the Constitution is amended, which will require a 60 percent majority in a high-turnout presidential year, the Legislature will get involved and pass implementing legislation – which is when the real mischief begins.

That means some lobbyists will get even richer, slipping little details into the implementing bill to favor their clients in what’s sure to be the most lucrative new venture since repeal of Prohibition. Lawmakers don’t like voters telling them what to do. It took them a couple sessions just to implement the medicinal marijuana mandate and, even then, it wound up in court.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is on record against recreational marijuana use. There will probably be provisions limiting strength levels of the stuff. It’s likely that somebody will want to legislate a presumed-impairment measure, like the blood/alcohol threshold we have for drunk driving. And if the industry is serious about “adults only,” surely it won’t mind some draconian penalties for selling marijuana to minors.

But that’s what we have experts for. For now, it looks like the bottom line question of finally legalizing marijuana – with no medicinal pretense – will soon be on the House and Senate agendas.

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Poll finds overwhelming support for legalizing recreational marijuana


Poll finds overwhelming support for legalizing recreational marijuana


SOUTHWEST, Fla. - Would you vote to legalize recreational marijuana?

Florida voters may get that chance in 2020, and a new poll shows overwhelming support for it.

Fabrizio-Lee conducted the survey, and they said a private party paid for it and gave it to "Make it Legal Florida." It's a committee Attorney John Morgan is backing to get recreational pot passed.

It looks like lighting up could become legal in Florida next year, according to the poll.

Getting recreational marijuana passed in Florida has become a strategy.

The poll surveyed 800 voters and 67 percent of them supported recreational use, and 29 percent of respondents oppose it.

Political Consultant Dennis Pearlman said polls could push people into a decision making process. However many people consider polls unreliable, but Pearlman suggested the poll itself could be a motivating factor for some voters

“They're going to be marketing to the millennials and if it's giving them a reason to vote this may be the tag that gets them to the polls,” Pearlman said

Politics aside, Dr. Heather Auld prescribes cannabis to patients and has a bigger concern about legalizing it.

“There wouldn't be any financial gain to do research on something that is a free-for-all already,” Dr. Auld said.

The proposal calls for allowing those 21 and older could legally have 2.5 ounces of pot that's enough for about 160 joints.

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed 65 percent of Florida voters support recreational pot.

NBC-2 conducted its own "unscientific" poll on Facebook Tuesday.

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Floridians overwhelmingly support legalizing recreational marijuana, top pollster finds


Floridians overwhelmingly support legalizing recreational marijuana, top pollster finds

Florida Politics

Floridians overwhelmingly support legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use, according to a new survey conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, one of the most respected public research firms in the nation.

The survey found two-thirds of likely Florida voters polled favor legalizing the use of marijuana for adults age 21 or over.

Of those, 45 percent said they strongly favored legalization, and 22 percent said they somewhat favored. Only 29 percent opposed legalization.

The 67 percent favorability finding in the poll is a massive win for legalization proponents. It sets a solid ground for work on three proposed amendments seeking ballot inclusion that all would require 60 percent of the vote to be approved.

Messaging in favor of legalization is also polling with supermajority support. The three most potent messages tested in the poll address potential voter concerns while also touting the benefits of legalization.

The top polling message points out that the amendment would require strict labeling on marijuana products as well as childproof packaging and a ban on advertising that might appear to target children. Asked about that message, 70 percent of respondents said they were more likely to support the amendment. Among those, 50 percent indicated they would be much more likely; 20 percent said they would be somewhat more likely to vote in favor of legalization.

In another messaging strategy, respondents were told about the burden placed on law enforcement by enforcing marijuana laws, including that legalization “allows the courts and police to focus more time on serious crimes such as gang activity, violent crimes, robbery and sexual predators.”

Asked about that messaging, 67 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to support legalization.

The third messaging strategy received 63 percent. It focused on the impacts of legalization on revenue generation that could support state priorities like education, health care and public safety.

Meanwhile, potential opposing strategies fell flat among respondents.

Only 46 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to oppose legalization when told that “studies have shown that marijuana use by those under the age of 25 can impair brain development and function.” That talking point was the most successful among opposition strategies tested. Two others — that legalization would make marijuana more accessible to children and that it is a gateway drug — polled with 43 percent and 41 percent of respondents saying they would be less likely to support the measure.

The difference in messaging support shows opposition efforts that have been employed in the past might not be effective.

The poll was conducted among 800 likely 2020 general election voters in Florida from July 16-18. Calls were split 50/50 between landline and cellphone respondents. The margin of error in the poll is 3.46 percent.

The Make it Legal Florida Committee, which is chaired by MedMen Director of Government Affairs for the Southeast region Nick Hansen, sponsored the poll.

The committee filed amendment language this week that 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.

The Make it Legal Florida amendment is one of three proposals for the 2020 ballot seeking to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The groups have filed two others.

The activist-backed group Regulate Florida, whose committee to raise funds is registered as Sensible Florida, recently received enough petitions to qualify for judicial review, which is necessary before making the ballot. To do that, groups must obtain 76,632 certified petition signatures. To make the ballot, groups have to have 766,200 certified signatures. Sensible Florida’s amendment would regulate recreational marijuana similarly to alcohol.

Another group, Floridians for Freedom, is proposing an amendment that would deregulate marijuana, providing only the stipulation that adults could not sell the drug to minors.

Hansen told Florida Politics his group’s amendment is aimed at passing Supreme Court review and reaching enough voters to surpass the 60 percent threshold for voter approval on the 2020 ballot. He said including language that regulates recreational use similarly to the way medical marijuana is regulated helps accomplish that. He’s also encouraged by the polling numbers on messaging showing voters respond positively to the amendment’s language requiring childproof packaging and banning marketing geared toward children.

The Make it Legal Florida-sponsored poll supports a recent Quinnipiac University poll that also showed strong support for legalization. That poll, conducted in June, showed 65 percent support.

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The heat is on: “5 Questions” on getting a recreational pot amendment on 2020 ballot


The heat is on: “5 Questions” on getting a recreational pot amendment on 2020 ballot

Florida Politics

With the language now filed for a recreational, or “adult-use,” marijuana amendment for the Florida Constitution, the pressure is on to get it on the 2020 ballot — a little more than 14 months away.

But they’ll have less time than that to gather the signatures needed: 76,632 statewide for “judicial and financial impact review” and a daunting 766,200 to make ballot position.

A new political committee, “Make It Legal Florida,” registered with the state to push the amendment. That panel has ties to powerful lobbyists and Republicans.

It’s chaired by Nick Hansen, a veteran operative who has worked on campaigns at all levels and is a former longtime adviser to GOP state Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg.

Hansen is now Southeastern Director of Government Affairs for MedMen, the Los Angeles-based medical cannabis chain with locations and delivery service in Florida.

Facing what is essentially a Feb. 1, 2020 deadline – five months away – for their task, Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch spoke with Hansen for a “Five Questions” interview about the near future.

Florida Politics: Is your organization really serious about getting on the 2020 ballot? How will you overcome the tight timeframe and resources needed to succeed?

Hansen: Yes – we are targeting the 2020 ballot and look forward to giving the voters a chance to have their voices heard on adult use marijuana in Florida. We understand it will require significant resources, and we are very confident we will have the needed resources to succeed.

According to both public and private polling, 2 out of every 3 voters in Florida support the passage of safe and legal adult use. Public opinion supports a movement now in a way that wasn’t seen years ago. The momentum to act is definitely on our side.

FP: Are you considering pushing for legislation during the 2020 Legislative Session that would legalize adult use cannabis in Florida? 

Hansen: Our focus is on the 2020 ballot, but if the legislature shows a sincere interest in the issue, we are happy to engage them and show them just how much Florida voters are “all-in” on this issue.

There are already examples of states that have done this statutorily— just look at Illinois. Safe and legal adult use grew in popularity so much that Illinois successfully passed a bi-partisan effort to implement the law statutorily. We would certainly welcome the same conversations with Florida’s leadership.

FP: Many advocates in the marijuana arena say your amendment language does not go far enough and call it a missed opportunity with respect to decriminalization and related issues – how do you respond? 

Hansen:  Unlike many of the other states that have considered this issue, Florida has strict rules on ballot language requiring an amendment to focus only on a “single subject.” It was important for us to craft language with one clear goal – safe, legal adult use of marijuana in Florida.

While we understand there are many related issues surrounding this topic, we also know that what Florida voters overwhelmingly support is having access to safe and legal adult use. To get Florida to the finish line, we know this battle requires a singular focus and requires language that specifically addresses that focus.

FP: What about local control — does your language address a city or county’s ability to regulate dispensaries as they see fit?  

Hansen: The great thing about our ballot language is that it doesn’t have to. The Florida law that allows local cities and counties to regulate dispensaries will still be in effect. This amendment doesn’t impact that piece of Florida legislation and allows cities and counties to continue to regulate under the existing law.

FP: Why does your proposal limit the sale and distribution of legal adult use marijuana to Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs)? 

Hansen: The amendment adopted by Florida voters in 2016 makes it very clear that Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers are the entities allowed to sell and distribute medical marijuana. For the purpose of clarity and consistency for all involved, it makes sense to use the Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers for this purpose. They have worked well in Florida and there is no reason to change that now.

We also wanted to ensure we aligned with current distribution channels and kept the Department of Health as the regulatory body providing oversight. We feel that the Department has the history and experience to safely regulate not just medical marijuana, but also adult use.

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