Florida Marijuana Legalization Campaign Activates New Veterans Coalition To Win Over Voters - Grow Life 420

Florida Marijuana Legalization Campaign Activates New Veterans Coalition To Win Over Voters

May 05, 2024

#KahliBuds #MMJ #CBD #THC

Following an effort to attract more military veteran supporters of marijuana legalization, the campaign behind a Florida ballot measure to legalize adult-use cannabis—Amendment 3—is beginning to feature more veterans in media outreach.

Smart and Safe Florida, the organization backing the initiative, announced last month that it’s working to form a coalition of veterans to build voter support for the reform.

“Our goal is to raise awareness among voters about the importance of cannabis as a safer alternative to synthetic opioids for treating PTSD and related conditions among veterans,” wrote the campaign, explaining that organizers are “looking to engage with veterans across the state of Florida to support our cause.”

One of those veterans, Feena Bonoan, spoke local media, telling Jacksonville-based WOKV that marijuana could benefit veterans with PTSD and chronic pain as well as reduce the use of opioids.

Bonoan, who developed an ovarian condition during her time in the Navy and has since retired, says marijuana helped ease pain related to the ailment.

“There would be days where even when I was in school after I’d completed my tours and got out of the military and I was on my GI Bill where I couldn’t go to class because of the pain,” she said.

Bonoan also spent some time working with the Hawaiian Veterans Cannabis Alliance, where she saw other veterans benefit from marijuana.

“We had one veteran that before medical marijuana he was on probably 20 different medications, including opioids.” she said. “And the VA, at that time, they were really open about giving you your pain meds. And he doesn’t need them anymore.”

The veteran described legalization as “a path to prosperity.”

While Florida’s existing medical marijuana law does allow patients access to cannabis if they have PTSD or chronic pain—among a number of other qualifying conditions—advocates say broader adult-use legalization would make it easier to obtain medicine.

Smart and Safe Florida did not make anyone from its veterans coalition available for an interview in response to numerous requests from Marijuana Moment, but in a statement sent on behalf of the campaign, veteran and Florida Rep. Lisa Dunkley (D) said she supports the proposed reform.

“Florida voters have consistently expressed their support for safe and regulated adult use of cannabis, which will be on our Florida ballot in November,” Dunkley said. “As a veteran of our armed services, I support Amendment 3 because it offers Floridians of 21 years and older the freedom to access cannabis products that offer a safe alternative to opioids and other treatment options for our veterans population.”

The outreach—and deployment—of veterans in support of cannabis legalization comes as polls show signs of trouble for the proposed reform. The latest survey, published last month by Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and Mainstreet Research, found that a 47 percent plurality of voters backed the cannabis initiative, compared to 35 percent opposed and 18 percent undecided.

In order to pass on the ballot, the constitutional amendment needs 60 percent of the vote.

Another survey this month, from USA Today/Ipsos, found that 56 percent of Florida registered voters back the cannabis proposal—still below the 60 percent threshold required for enactment under the state Constitution.

Both surveys came on the heels of the state Supreme Court officially clearing the initiative for the ballot after rejecting a challenge from the state’s attorney general.

There’s been a mix of polling over the last year on the marijuana legalization initiative, with certain surveys signaling that there is enough support for approval. But it’s not uncommon for support for ballot questions to decrease as Election Day approaches.

Despite the uncertainty, multiple marijuana companies are working to support the reform effort, donating a total of nearly $15 million to the campaign, according to state filings that were released last month.

Trulieve, a multi-state operator and the main financial backer of the initiative, led the pack again with $9.225 million in donations during the first quarter. That follows the company previously contributing about $40 million as advocates worked to collect more than one million signatures to qualify for ballot placement.

Another Florida veteran, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), has predicted that voters will reject the marijuana initiative this November. He’s called the proposal “radical” and argued that it will “reduce the quality of life” in the state.

The CEO of Trulieve, meanwhile, has argued legalization could actually “improve quality of life” for Florida residents.

“The sky has not fallen” with Florida’s implementation of medical cannabis legalization under an earlier initiative, “and folks see that choice is a good thing,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said during an interview on The Dales Report’s “Trade To Black” podcast.

DeSantis, for his part, said that enactment of the reform would mean “this state will start to smell like marijuana in our cities and towns,” which seems to be a particular concern for the governor, who has previously complained about the smell of cannabis in other jurisdictions.

“It will reduce the quality of life,” he said, adding that Florida already has a medical cannabis program that his administration implemented following voter approval of the reform in 2016.

“Do we really need to do more with that?” he asked. “Do we want to have more marijuana in our communities? I don’t think it’ll work out well, but it is a very, very broad amendment.”

DeSantis has also attacked as “not good for families” and “not good for [the] elderly.”

As drafted, the measure if approved would change the state Constitution to allow existing medical cannabis companies in the state like Trulieve to begin selling marijuana to all adults over 21. It contains a provision that would allow—but not require—lawmakers to take steps toward the approval of additional businesses. Home cultivation by consumers would not be allowed under the proposal as drafted.

Adults 21 and older would be able to purchase and possess up to three ounces of cannabis, only five grams of which could be marijuana concentrate products. The three-page measure also omits equity provisions favored by advocates such as expungements or other relief for people with prior cannabis convictions.

Separately, economic analysts from the Florida legislature and the the governor’s office estimate that the marijuana legalization initiative would generate between $195.6 million and $431.3 million in new sales tax revenue annually if voters enact it. And those figures could increase considerably if lawmakers opted to impose an additional excise tax on cannabis transactions that’s similar to the ones in place in other legalized states.

Here’s what the Smart & Safe Florida marijuana legalization initiative would accomplish:

  • Adults 21 and older could purchase and possess up to three ounces of cannabis for personal use. The cap for marijuana concentrates would be five grams.
  • Medical cannabis dispensaries could “acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell, and distribute marijuana products and marijuana accessories to adults for personal use.”
  • The legislature would be authorized—but not required—to approve additional entities that are not currently licensed cannabis dispensaries.
  • The initiative specifies that nothing in the proposal prevents the legislature from “enacting laws that are consistent with this amendment.”
  • The amendment further clarifies that nothing about the proposal “changes federal law,” which seems to be an effort to avoid past legal challenges about misleading ballot language.
  • There are no provisions for home cultivation, expungement of prior records or social equity.
  • The measure would take effect six months following approval by voters.

Here’s the full text of the ballot title and summary:

“Allows adults 21 years or older to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption by smoking, ingestion, or otherwise; allows Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers, and other state licensed entities, to acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell, and distribute such products and accessories. Applies to Florida law; does not change, or immunize violations of, federal law. Establishes possession limits for personal use. Allows consistent legislation. Defines terms. Provides effective date.”

The Florida Chamber of Commerce released a poll in January showing that a marijuana legalization initiative that may appear on the November ballot enjoys majority support from likely voters—but not quite enough to meet the state’s steep 60 percent threshold for passage.

Meanwhile, there’s significant interest in how former President Donald Trump, a Florida resident, will vote on the cannabis initiative, and whether he will publicly support or oppose it.

Also, a Florida bill that sought to cap THC potency if voters approved the legalization initiative at the ballot died this session, much to the relief of cannabis advocates and stakeholders.

Legislation to restrict consumable hemp products and ban delta-8 THC was approved by lawmakers and awaits DeSantis’s action.

Separately, a House subcommittee advanced a medical marijuana bill that would waive patient registration and renewal fees for service-disabled military veterans.

Despite his opposition to the initiative, DeSantis, the former GOP presidential candidate who dropped out of the race in January, previously accurately predicted that the state’s highest court would ultimately allow the measure on November’s ballot.

Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) successfully petitioned justices to prevent an earlier 2022 legalization initiative from receiving voter consideration.

DeSantis also weighed in on another relevant cannabis policy issue earlier this year when, while still a presidential candidate, he said that he doesn’t believe the federal gun ban for state-legal marijuana consumers is constitutional. Florida’s former agriculture commission, Nikki Fried, brought a lawsuit against the Biden administration over the rule, though the governor did not get involved.

Prior to dropping out, DeSantis also said that if elected president, he would “respect the decisions that states make” on marijuana legalization despite his personal view that the reform has a “negative impact.”

Marijuana Rescheduling Would Not Bring State Markets ‘Into Compliance’ With Federal Law, Congressional Researchers Say

The post Florida Marijuana Legalization Campaign Activates New Veterans Coalition To Win Over Voters appeared first on Marijuana Moment.


via www.KahliBuds.com

Ben Adlin, KahliBuds, 420GrowLife

  • Share:

You Might Also Like