Cannabis legalization was a hot topic in Florida in 2019. Floridians have stepped up to legalize recreational marijuana in the state by 2020. Cannabis company MedMen’s 2019 cannabis campaign initiative, “Make It Legal Florida,” collected enough signatures to qualify for the November 2020 ballot. Let’s look at the progress of the cannabis legalization campaigns in the state.
What’s the progress of marijuana legalization in Florida?
It wasn’t easy for Florida to legalize medical cannabis. Previously, we wrote about Florida’s campaign, “Regulate Florida,” to allow legalization to qualify for the 2020 ballot. Additionally, cannabis company MedMen (MMNFF) launched another campaign called “Make it Legal Florida.” Both campaigns had separate websites that allowed residents to cast votes of support.
However, the “Regulate Florida” campaign faced hurdles, forcing it to back out. In December 2019, the campaign members stated that they wouldn’t be able to collect the required signatures before the February 1 deadline.
The signatures need to be verified 30 days before the deadline, and the group had obtained only 92,540 signatures as of December 16, 2019. The total number of signatures required before the verification was 766,200. However, the group is still unsure whether it wants to support the “Make it Legal Florida” campaign.
Progress of “Make it Legal Florida”
Now, the “Regulate Florida” campaign out of the picture. So, “Make it Legal Florida” is now Florida’s sole hope for the legalization of recreational marijuana. The initiative is backed by cannabis companies and has succeeded in collecting a significant number of signatures.
However, the group has faced some issues and might still require more time. On January 2, Marijuana Moment reported that the group had filed a lawsuit against the state for causing unnecessary delays in collecting signatures. A new law in the state has placed restrictions on signature gathering.
The lawsuit specifies that the deadline for verification and submitting of signatures should be extended. The lawsuit stated, “The actions of the secretary have presented an enormous (if not insurmountable) barrier to the ability of sponsors, such as plaintiff Make It Legal Florida, to collect the requisite number of signatures for petitions and have them reviewed, validated, and verified signatures by the supervisors, and then reviewed and deemed sufficient by the secretary — all by the February 1, 2020 deadline.”
As of January 1, 2020, “Make it Legal Florida” has collected 221,281 signatures. The group fears if they can’t collect enough valid signatures by the deadline, they could miss qualifying for the 2020 ballot. Marijuana Moment also stated that if it makes it to the ballot and voters approve it, “adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess, use, transport and purchase up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, and existing medical dispensaries would be allowed to sell recreational marijuana.”
Cannabis retailers in Florida
Even with just medical cannabis allowed in the state, Florida operates close to 205 dispensaries, and the top cannabis retailers are planning further expansion as well. Currently, Trulieve dominates the medical cannabis market space in Florida, with 40 dispensaries. Surterra Wellness follows with 36 dispensaries and Curaleaf (CURLF) operates 28 dispensaries.
MedMen currently has 10 stores in Florida. In its recent first quarter of fiscal 2020 earnings, MedMen announced the opening of three new dispensaries in Florida in St. Petersburg, Key West, and Pensacola.
Florida has seen good growth in medical cannabis sales. In September 2019, Marijuana Business Daily reported that the state earned $225 million–$300 million in medical cannabis sales in 2018. In 2019, medical cannabis sales could reach $425 million–$525 million. So, we can expect recreational marijuana legalization to benefit the state.
Furthermore, Florida saw a 703% increase in job growth in 2018 from the cannabis sector. Moreover, the demand for the whole flower is high in the state, and it appears now that the companies are feeling the pressure of the demand from 300,000 qualified patients in Florida.
How can cannabis companies benefit from Florida’s legalization initiative?
Canadian cannabis companies like Aurora Cannabis (ACB), Canopy Growth (CGC) (WEED), and Cronos (CRON) plan to launch their Cannabis 2.0 products in those US states where marijuana demand is high. Florida is one such state. Edibles are highly popular not only in Canada but also in the US.
However, consumers who aren’t able to obtain edibles in the US legally are turning to the black market. So, legalization in the state could help cannabis companies improve their revenue and profitability as well as diversify their market.
Florida’s legalization initiative could motivate other states to take a stance on legalization as well. For now, President Trump doesn’t seem to be that supportive of marijuana legalization. He stated that he could decide to ignore the congressional prohibition against federal interference in states where marijuana is already legal.
For more on the cannabis industry, check 420 Investor Daily.