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2020

Make It Legal Florida punts on 2020 ballot initiative after too-ambitious petition drive

The group will instead shoot for 2022.

The group Make it Legal Florida will not put a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot, the group announced Monday.

“With the support of over 67 percent of Florida voters, Make it Legal Florida is proud to have gathered more than 700,000 signed petitions in the effort to bring adult-use cannabis to the Sunshine State,” the group wrote in a statement.

“The narrow timeframe to submit and verify those signatures has prompted our committee to shift focus to now gain ballot access in 2022.”

Make It Legal Florida is the official campaign for an adult-use cannabis amendment that would allow adults 21 years of age or older to purchase cannabis from a licensed medical marijuana treatment center regardless of medical necessity.

The effort requires 766,200 verified signatures by Feb. 1 to make the 2020 ballot. While the group says they’ve collected more than 700,000 signatures, only 294,403 of those had been certified by local supervisors of election offices as of Monday morning, less than half the necessary number and with less than one-month to go.

Make It Legal Florida’s announcement comes after a flurry of news surrounding the effort to legalize adult-use cannabis in Florida including the group’s $4.8 million in fundraising in the month of December and a bill Sen. Jeff Brandes’ filed in the legislature to accomplish similar goals.

Brandes’ bill faces challenges in the conservative legislature where cannabis-related efforts have frequently faced setbacks.

A 2020 ballot initiative would serve as a fail safe should Brandes’ bill not pass during the 2020 Legislative Session, which starts Tuesday.

“We’re looking forward to Supreme Court review of our efforts and working in collaboration with state leaders to ensure the supermajority of Floridians’ voices are heard,” the group wrote in a statement referencing requirements to obtain ballot language approval and, once on the ballot, to earn at least 60 percent plus one vote for adoption into the Florida constitution.

Make It Legal Florida also recently filed a lawsuit challenging the timeframe for signatures to be verified by local supervisors of elections.

Even if the challenge were successful, the effort would likely have needed several more weeks to compile enough verified petition signatures to make the 2020 ballot.

Still, their effort fared better than a competing measure to legalize adult-use cannabis by Sensible Florida, which only has 92,805 verified petition signatures according to the Florida Division of Elections.

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 Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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