Recreational marijuana sees big cash infusion

By Mike Vasilinda - Tallahassee Bureau Chief
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - There are five pending amendments for the 2020 ballot that seek to make marijuana more available, but only one of the five appears to have the financial backing to get to the ballot.

Make it Legal Florida is the newest and richest kid on the block when it comes to pushing for legal marijuana. In its first month, it's received contributions of just over $1 million, all coming from two marijuana growers.

"We're going to get on the ballot," said Nick Hansen, who is in charge of the campaign.

A recent poll found bipartisan support for recreational marijuana at 67% with little drop off when voters were tested with opponents' likely arguments.

A 60% vote is needed for approval.

"A super majority of Floridians want access -- safe and legal access -- to cannabis," Hansen said.

Another group, Sensible Florida, has collected less than $200,000 in over two years.

Attorney John Morgan, who ran the successful 2016 effort to get medical marijuana on the ballot, said it is still possible for one of the groups to get on the ballot, but it'll be an uphill battle.

"You know, at this late date, you're going to have to spend 10 to $15 million to get the signatures on the ballot," Morgan said.

Like the other 11 states with legal marijuana, both petitions limit pot sales to people over 21.

"I'm a father of five, so I completely understand that," Hansen said. "I think every parent should know that responsible adults should have access, but there should be safeguards in place from the industry and regulators." 

But Morgan, who sometimes bills himself as "Pot Daddy,: said the campaign is going to face well-heeled opponents.

"Never underestimate how important this is to the pharmaceutical industry, that this not become an alternative," Morgan said.

All of which could make the 2020 campaign to legalize marijuana, the most expensive the state has ever seen.
 

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