Opposition group forms to defeat recreational cannabis push in Florida
Shake-up in smokable flower sector.

The group plans to combat Make It Legal Florida.

A group has emerged to defeat a proposed 2020 ballot initiative seeking to make adult-use cannabis legal for recreational use.

The group Floridians Against Recreational Marijuana formed Friday with the backing of the national group the Coalition for Medical Cannabis.

“Our coalition has come together to defeat this dangerous ballot initiative, which will drive an increase in healthcare prices, increase costs on businesses and kill jobs, and increase the burden on taxpayers that will pay for the costs associated with recreational marijuana,” said Brian Swensen, who is leading the statewide effort to defeat the ballot measure.

FARM is made up of a coalition of citizens, businesses, anti-drug advocates, patients including veterans seeking affordable health care and medical community professionals.

“The mega-marijuana corporate interests backing this initiative hope to transform Florida into a state like Oregon, California, and Colorado by passing this reckless recreational marijuana amendment,” Swensen said.

The group Make it Legal Florida is pushing for a 2020 ballot initiative legalizing cannabis for users 21 or older. That effort would require cannabis sales for non-medical uses to occur within existing medical marijuana treatment centers. It’s heavily backed by current Florida MMTC providers MedMen and Parallel, formerly known as Surterra Wellness.

Together the companies have put more than $2.6 million into the Make it Legal campaign.

“The Coalition for Medical Cannabis is pleased to partner with and support efforts of Floridians to protect medical cannabis in its early stage and ensure that Florida doesn’t join the growing list of states dealing with issues of poorly conceived recreational marijuana programs,” said Coalition Executive Director Bob Ellsworth. “We are pleased that Florida now has established the official lead group to oppose the efforts. They have the right group and leadership to deliver a successful outcome.”

FARM filed paperwork with the Florida Division of Elections Thursday and has therefore not yet reported any fundraising activity. The group claims it expects broad support from “hundreds of statewide and community-based organizations.”

“Now that the groups are aligned behind a uniform platform, we will be able to effectively make the appropriate campaign to help Florida residents understand what a mistake it would be to support this initiative,” Swenson said. “While legalization would provide significant revenue opportunities for a select few, it would do so to the detriment of Florida as a whole.”

The newly formed group is also working with Pat Bainter and his Data-Targeting team and the law firm Shutts & Bowen.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]


  • Ricky Jimmy

    November 22, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    Fucking morons!

  • Myron

    November 22, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    Well it has been said that Marijuana is a gateway drug. This is a true fact in those states where it is not yet legal. I say this because in states such as Florida the only place that the average person may purchase Marijuana is from a Dope Dealer. This places a majority of citizens in harms way. I think that it is time for this to end and bring Marijuana above ground and legal.

    • jon

      November 25, 2019 at 3:17 pm


  • Jersey Brian

    November 23, 2019 at 7:20 am

    What are the odds drug testing labs and alcohol distributors are involved?

  • Sonja Emily Fitch

    November 24, 2019 at 6:59 am


  • Ricky

    November 27, 2019 at 10:54 am

    So the primary backers of this anti-legalization effort are existing medical cannabis dispensary owners who want to protect their current monopoly on legal sales. Once it goes recreational the medical dispensaries will be unable to keep up with state-wide demand, necessitating the opening of additional stores. They don’t care about patients or people getting criminal records, all they care about is money and protecting their vested interests. As long as it stays medical, the current shop owners don’t have to worry about new dispensaries, or customers shopping around; they have a captive market in the town they operate in and will fight anything to change the status quo.

    I’d like to know exactly what “problems” California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington are facing. The guy is quoted as saying big money interests want to turn FL into the next CO…ok and that’s a problem how? I won’t say there have been zero issues in those states, as doing something literally for the first time in a century will always have some unforeseen problems. Instead of just pointing out real or imaginary problems and blindly fighting the will of the people, why doesn’t this group make suggestions on how to fix the potential problems? If there is a concern about too many dispensaries, then suggest a limit (there already is in the current proposal). If the concern is about product quality, suggest requiring state-wide testing standards. But if the only concern is that your MMJ dispensary will lose customers to a competitor the next town over, tough ****. It’s crazy how fast people will switch sides once money involved.

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