Marijuana legalization fight set to get pricey in 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The organizers behind the Make It Legal recreational marijuana amendment are closing in on 100,000 valid signatures and have said they will have enough to qualify for the 2020 election by mid-December.

It is already promising to be a heated campaign.

A ribbon was cut Tuesday as MedMen opened its first medical marijuana dispensary in Tallahassee. MedMen is banking on voters to back the recreational marijuana amendment the company is bankrolling.

“A super-majority of Floridians are truly wanting this and survey after survey is saying that,” said Make It Legal Florida Chairperson Nick Hansen.

So far, MedMen and another license holder, Surterra, have already dropped $1 million each into the petition process. They are already planning ahead for what could turn into an expensive campaign.

"You starting at multiples of millions and it could be, you know, ten times that when you are done, but it really depends on where is the polling and who is the opposition,” Hansen said.

Barney Bishop is on the other side of the debate. He said MedMen is right in that it’s going to be an expensive and hard-fought election. He said the opposition could pour up to $10 million into its own campaign.

“No question that law enforcement and other conservative opponents are going to spend a lot of money to try and keep this ballot initiative from winning,” Bishop said.

Some state House members are already arming themselves with information to fight the amendment. Last month, Dr. Bertha Madras a Harvard Professor of Psychobiology testified before a committee chaired by Rep. Ray Rodrigues, who has been vocal in his opposition to legalization.

“The alarm bells are beginning to come in with marijuana, and we hope people are listening,” said Madras.

Florida is already expected to be a battleground state for the presidency next year and likely for legal marijuana as well. The deadline for certifying petitions is Feb. 1. More than 766,000 are needed to get on the ballot.