Florida recreational marijuana ballot measure gets pushback from industry

Prescription Marijuana – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Brian Goodman

A proposed ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the Sunshine State in 2024 has caused an uproar within the industry, displaying ongoing divides over how adult-use markets should be structured.

The initiative was filed recently with the Florida Division of Elections and has secured financial support from Trulieve Cannabis, the most prominent medical marijuana company in the state of Florida and one of the U.S.’s largest multistate operators.

According to Miami New Times, critics claim that under the proposed proposal, which is being promoted by the Smart & Safe Florida campaign, the Florida-based corporation stands to earn greatly from legalization.

“No home grow, the entire Florida recreational market handed to the existing medical market, and the legislature doesn’t have to license anyone else,” former Massachusetts cannabis regulator Shaleen Title wrote on Twitter, adding that the measure is “one of the most revolting, monopolistic (legalization) measures yet.”

Title currently is the cannabis policy practitioner in residence at the Ohio State University College of Law’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.

The Florida medical marijuana market is one of the nation’s largest. It consists of 22 licensed companies that run a total of 460 dispensaries, Miami New Times reported.

If passed, the Trulieve-supported initiative would sustain the current ban on home cannabis cultivation and permit new market entrants but only if the Legislature approves a market restructure of this kind. Those opposed say both provisions would benefit Florida’s current medical marijuana operators.

A Trulieve representative stated to MJBizDaily via email that existing medical marijuana businesses would be permitted to sell recreational marijuana under the proposed amendment to the state constitution and that Florida lawmakers would have the discretion to increase the number of licensees.

“The clear reading of this is that the state can create new licenses and players into the market… the amendment even gives a 6-month lead time to do so,” the Trulieve spokesperson noted.

According to Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve, her company will support any and all initiatives to completely legalize marijuana.

Sensible Florida, a different adult-use legalization campaign, received a quarter million dollars from the corporation last year, but it was not enough to be on the ballot in 2022.

In contrast, Miami New Times reports that Trulieve has already contributed $5 million to the proposed 2024 initiative campaign.

The News Service of Florida reported this month that while Sensible Florida is aiming to qualify for the ballot in 2024, the campaign has so far received fewer than the 900,000 valid signatures needed to qualify.

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