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Florida Republicans Formally Oppose Marijuana Legalization Initiative

May 8, 2024,09:39am





The Florida Republican Party has formally declared its opposition to a constitutional amendment ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, saying the initiative would “benefit powerful marijuana special interests, while putting children at risk and endangering Florida’s family-friendly business and tourism climates.”

Florida voters will decide on the ballot measure to legalize marijuana known as Amendment 3 in this November’s general election. If the initiative succeeds at the polls, it will legalize marijuana for adults and empower the legislature to establish a regulatory framework for recreational cannabis production and sales.

The Republican Party of Florida has come out against an initiative to legalize recreational ... [+]

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The Florida GOP’s executive board passed a resolution to oppose Amendment 3 and Amendment 4, an initiative to protect abortion rights statewide, at its quarterly meeting on May 4. In a statement after the resolution was adopted, Republican Party of Florida chair Evan Power said the ballot measures “are unnecessary attempts by an increasingly shrinking minority who know the only way to win support for their radical agenda is to confuse and mislead the electorate” and urged voters to reject the initiatives.

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“We support killing the amendments as a party because it’s not good policy for the state,” Power told The Miami Herald, according to a report from cannabis online news outlet Marijuana Moment. “When you look at it, it seems like these amendments are out of step with what Floridians want.”

Legalization Campaign Dismisses GOP Opposition

Florida voters will decide on Amendment 3, an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, in the ... [+]

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After the Florida GOP announced its opposition to Amendment 3, Morgan Hill, communications director for Smart & Safe Florida, the group behind the marijuana legalization effort, said the initiative would reform the state’s marijuana policy safely and responsibly.

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“Amendment 3 has wide bipartisan support because Floridians know legalization means accountability, transparency and safety,” Hill told the Florida Phoenix. “Smart & Safe Florida is committed to safe access to cannabis products while empowering the legislature to enact comprehensive regulations, spanning from cultivation to consumption, including where people may or may not smoke in public. Such protections are customary with the implementation of any policy in our state regardless of industry.”

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Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said last week that he would campaign against Amendment 3 and Amendment 4. The governor also plans to help raise money to support efforts to defeat the two initiatives at the polls this November.

“My view is both ‘no’ on both of those,” DeSantis said. “We’ll be getting involved in different ways I think across those initiatives.”

Pot Legalization Amendment Has Broad Support

More than one million voters signed petitions to place the Amendment 3 on the ballot for the 2024 general election. If passed, the constitutional amendment initiative would allow the state’s current providers of medical marijuana, which was legalized in Florida in 2016, to begin selling cannabis to all adults aged 21 and up. Adults would be allowed to purchase up to three ounces of marijuana at a time, including no more than five grams of cannabis concentrates. The bill does not include provisions to expunge past cannabis convictions or the home cultivation of marijuana, which activists feared would lead the Supreme Court to block the measure based on state laws that limit ballot initiatives to a single subject.

The proposed constitutional amendment also allows state lawmakers to authorize additional adult-use cannabis business licenses, although there is no requirement for the legislature to do so. The initiative retains Florida’s current vertically integrated business structure, which requires operators to control the production and marketing of marijuana from seed to sale.

Public opinion polls show strong support for Amendment 3, although a recent USA TODAY/Ipsos poll found that the legalization bid may not have the support required to pass. Under Florida state law, ballot initiatives must receive at least 60% of the votes to pass, a threshold far higher than the simple majority required in most states with an initiative process.

Earlier surveys show stronger support for ending the prohibition of recreational marijuana in Florida. A poll from the University of North Florida released late last year shows that 67% of voters support legalizing recreational marijuana in the state.

If Amendment 3 is approved by Florida voters in the November general election, it will take effect six months after election day, bringing to number of states that have legalized recreational marijuana to 25.

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