It takes 766,200 validated signatures of Florida voters to get to the ballot for a citizen petition for a statewide constitutional amendment.
Yes, Supreme Court review/approval and all that, but the first (really) big hurdle is getting enough signatures through the pipe. This is a process of getting the actual signature on an actual piece of paper (yes, paper!) to the local supervisors of elections. And then that signature is confirmed locally and then sent to the Secretary of State’s office, where it is considered “validated.” It is supposed to take 30 days — but that is sort of a suggestion.
And then there is the deadline.
The current deadline to get all the signatures through the process is February 1. To clarify, that’s not, “You must have all signatures in by February 1, that’s “You have to have them in, sent to local elections supervisors, reviewed and validated by the Secretary of State by February 1.”
That’s a very big difference.
The general rule of thumb in the pre-HB 5 political environment was that you had to have all of the petitions submitted before Christmas because the local officials would often take the full thirty days to validate and transmit them to the state. Post HB 5, you likely needed to add a few weeks, if not more.
The question recurs.
Will Make it Legal Florida (MILF) make it?
At this stage, even the Make it Legal Florida (of course, we are talking about making marijuana legal as a recreational product) sponsors are admitting they don’t have the time and will fall short of the current deadline. Further, they have filed a lawsuit asking the court to extend the time by 30 days — and that suit is not without merit. In fact, quite publicly, the Secretary of State’s system for verification and validation has been intermittent at best, with slowdowns, breakdowns, and other failures. It certainly has put a kink in the hose and has likely caused unnecessary delays. Will a court agree? Who knows?
But does even the extension give the MILF folks enough time?
Consider this: Since announcing that they have begun gathering signatures, as of today (Jan. 7), they are averaging just under 2,000 per day. That’s not an insignificant number. Since Christmas, they have picked up the pace and are having just over 3,000 signatures validated each day.
Sounds good, except as of today they need a nearly impossible 21,000 per day if the deadline is not extended and nearly 9,500 per day if it is.
What that means is — even with the 30-day extension — they will need to have petitions validated at more than triple the rate they are at right now.
I don’t think they have a line on this at PredictIt, but if they did …
January 7, 2020 at 12:49 pm
It’s sad that we even have to go this route in the first place.
IIRC, ten states have already legalized recreational marijuana. And they’re not all small states, either — they include California and Illinois.
Florida’s legislature should get it done NOW, to take effect IMMEDIATELY. There simply aren’t any good arguments against it.
January 7, 2020 at 1:30 pm
Yes, Mr. Knapp, there is a multitude of good reasons not to, far too many to discuss in full here.
That said, the availability of yet another intoxicant to drivers is one example. Alcohol is regulated but regulation does not stop intoxicated driving and consequent harm to non-intoxicated people(to say nothing of the proliferation of ads by the portly Orlando lawyer who is deeply involved in bankrolling pot-related issues; one can only wonder why).
Responsible people will be responsible; irresponsible people will remain irresponsible. It is not a question of prudishness or liberty–it is a question of risk management.
January 8, 2020 at 8:41 am
C.O. I’m guessing you’ve never tried weed. You have the same old argument. Alcohol is far more damaging to society, and the ability to drive (not that anyone should drive stoned). So let’s make alcohol illegal again, or would you have a problem with that?
January 8, 2020 at 9:33 am
Bob–You’ve furnished no reason for your statement that alcohol is more damaging to society, but regardless, that horse is out of the barn. It is unlikely that Prohibition will be reinstituted, nor am I advocating that it should.
Nonetheless, drunk driving carries criminal penalties and, when it results in a collision causing genuine injury to another, the potential for enhanced money damages.
My point is that the legalization, even subject to regulation, of yet another intoxicant just does not make sense. It goes back to the fact that some people are responsible and some are not. The irresponsible will continue to abuse the substance (such as by driving while stoned) and some will cause harm to others–just like with alcohol. Although criminal penalties can be created and a system of enhanced civil damages imposed, why go down that road? Nothing good comes of it. As I said earlier, it is not an issue of a Prohibition-type mentality or of liberty (I identify more as a libertarian than much of anything else anyway), it is a question of risk management. It isn’t a question of “recreation”–it is just a new venue for irresponsibility to be exercised (despite some responsible people partaking, too).
January 8, 2020 at 9:46 am
At least two studies — one by the US National Institutes of Health, the other by the UK government’s equivalent — found that drivers “intoxicated” with THC are safer than “sober” drivers. I find those studies suspect, but the question is at best indeterminate and at worst, there can be laws against intoxication on a particular substance without laws against possession, use, or sale of that substance.
As for “availability,” prohibiting a substance doesn’t make it unavailable. While I’m neither especially enamored of marijuana nor well-connected in the “criminal” community, I could get the stuff within 24 hours without the slightest inconvenience, and within an hour if I wanted to exert myself. It’s already pretty much as “available” as candy bars and soda pop and it’s going to stay that way. The question is whether the taxpayer should have to subsidize unnecessary and ineffectual law enforcement and incarceration expenses so that politicians can pretend otherwise.
January 8, 2020 at 10:59 pm
Wow! Very impressive list. I will take some time to study these. Thanks.
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