Voters in Florida will have to wait at least two more years before they get the opportunity to decide whether the state should legalize pot.
Make it Legal Florida, the group that spearheaded the campaign to get the proposed amendment on the 2020 ballot, said this week that it is tabling the effort, with an eye toward 2020.
“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,” the group said in a statement, as reported by local TV station WFLA. “The narrow timeframe to submit and verify those signatures has prompted our committee to shift focus to now gain ballot access in 2022.”
In November, Make it Legal Florida announced that it had rounded up 313,000 signatures, though none were certified. The group had until early next month to get 766,200 certified signatures.
“We are overwhelmed by the support the Make it Legal Florida effort has received around the state from Florida voters who believe adults should have access to regulated cannabis products,” the group’s chairman Nick Hansen said at the time. “We are continuing to deliver signatures for validation, and we are confident we will meet the deadline for Florida’s 2020 ballot.”
Other efforts to get a legalization proposal on this year’s Florida ballot have likewise gone up in smoke.
What Could Have Been
If the Make it Legal campaign had materialized, Florida could have joined 11 other states—most recently Illinois—to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Other states could follow suit this year. Voters in South Dakota will decide on an amendment to legalize recreational pot in November. The state’s ballot will include a separate proposal to legalize medical marijuana.
Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for his state to legalize recreational pot for adults 21 and over.
The failed effort in Florida is a setback for advocates who believed the state was ready to embrace legalization. A poll from Quinnipiac University in June found that 65 percent of Florida voters supported allowing adults to possess small amounts of pot for personal use—an all-time high in the state.
More than 70 percent of Florida voters approved a measure in 2016 to legalize medical marijuana.