Cannabis legalization sparked interest among Floridians, who took matters in their own hands last year. Voters in Florida, along with some cannabis companies, launched campaigns to gather signatures. The signatures would qualify marijuana legalization for the November 2020 ballot. Most people wonder if cannabis is legal in Florida. The support in the state looked good. As a result, there was hope that marijuana would see daylight in the state in 2020. However, Florida faces some hurdles.
“Make It Legal Florida” campaign faces hurdles
On January 3, I discussed how recreational cannabis initiatives face issues in Florida. MedMen launched the “Make It Legal Florida” campaign last year. The group is supposed to collect 766,200 signatures before the verification happens on February 1. The group thought that it needed more time. As a result, they filed a lawsuit against the state for causing unnecessary delays to collect signatures.
The state made some new laws that put restrictions on gathering signatures. The group asked for a deadline extension. However, all of the group’s attempts failed. Floridians might not see federal marijuana legalization in 2020. Yesterday, a Marijuana Moment article discussed that the “Make It Legal Florida” group finally decided that it won’t be possible to collect the required signatures before the deadline. The group will try for the 2022 ballot.
Nick Hansen, the group’s chairman, said in a press release that “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.” He also said, “The narrow timeframe to submit and verify those signatures has prompted our committee to shift focus to now gain ballot access in 2022.”
Is there still hope for legalization?
The “Make It Legal Florida” political committee has spent close to $7.7 million on the legalization effort. Cannabis retailers MedMen and Surterra contributed and raised more than $4.8 million in December for the campaign, as reported by the Miami Herald. Despite the efforts, the campaign decided to try for the 2022 ballot. Earlier, the “Regulate Florida” campaign also decided to stop for the same reason. While voters’ efforts are at a standstill, lawmakers are taking the initiative.
Overall, there might still be hope. Marijuana Moment reported that Republican Senator Jeff Brandes introduced a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana. The proposal also includes opening the marijuana industry to small businesses, expunging past cannabis offenses, and studying homegrown marijuana. Brandes said, “I believe decriminalizing marijuana will enable law enforcement to deal with more serious crimes and allow them to have a greater impact in our communities with their limited resources.”
Democratic Representative Carlos Smith introduced another bill in the House. Both of the proposals intend to allow adult-use marijuana. Legalizing marijuana could help wipe out the illicit cannabis market, promote public health, and generate revenue. Illicit cannabis market activities are an ongoing concern for US state cannabis markets and the Canadian market.
Cannabis retailers in Florida and adult-use legalization
I think that recreational cannabis legalization in Florida would have helped marijuana retailers and cannabis companies. Many cannabis retailers are growing their footing in the state by opening more dispensaries. Medical cannabis is booming in Florida with close to 213 dispensaries as of January 1.
The dispensaries offer cannabis oil, THC oils, tinctures, topicals, vape cartridges, capsules, cannabis flowers, and many other medical cannabis products. The stores also allow edibles in limited forms. The demand for cannabis edibles is the highest among other marijuana products. So, recreational legalization would have allowed these medical dispensaries to grow their revenues from edibles sales. The demand for edibles made Maryland work to make edibles part of its medical marijuana program.
Currently, Trulieve is dominating the medical cannabis market with 40 dispensaries. Surterra Wellness is second in the market. Curaleaf (OTCMKTS:CURLF) isn’t far behind either with 28 dispensaries. MedMen has ten stores in Florida and it recently opened three new stores.
Other more prominent marijuana players like Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB), Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) (TSE:WEED), and Aphria (NYSE:APHA) are also targeting US states with high cannabis demand. Recently, Illinois legalized cannabis and saw a surge in the demand for edibles. The state sold $11 million worth of recreational marijuana in the first five days.
It might be possible to legalize cannabis in Florida if the proposals aren’t rejected in the House and Senate. Many conservative lawmakers oppose cannabis legalization. However, there’s still a little hope. Legalization could also help Canadian companies grow their revenues this year to recover from last year’s losses.
Stay with us to learn more about the cannabis industry.