Florida, a major medical cannabis market, where some of the industry’s top operators have a presence, is poised in 2020 to become the first southern state to legalize for adult use. But as two groups fight for a chance to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, only one effort is drawing major cash, and both campaigns are still far from guaranteed to meet the required signature threshold.
Make it Legal Florida received $1.08 million in donations in November, with almost all of it coming from two of the largest cannabis companies in the US: MedMen and Parallel (formerly Surterra). Parallel gave $544,000, while MedMen chipped in $539,000. Parallel, Florida’s second-largest cannabis company, has spent $2.2 million since the campaign launched in August. MedMen’s total is nearing $1.7 million.
A second campaign, led by Sensible Florida, posted another month of weak fundraising. The campaign received $14,679 in donations in November. Sensible Florida won the backing of grassroots activists, including NORML Florida. But it has been unable to keep up with fundraising spree of Make it Legal Florida. Since August, the campaign has brought in just over $50,000.
Notably, though, another large US cannabis company, Trulieve, gave $10,500 to Sensible Florida. Trulieve is the state’s largest operator, with 40 dispensaries throughout Florida.
The Make it Legal Florida campaign would allow those 21 and older to “possess, use, purchase, display, and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and marijuana accessories for personal use for any reason.”
The campaign envisions an adult use market similar to the state’s current medical cannabis industry, where operators must be vertically integrated. In other words, cannabis companies would have to control adult use cannabis cultivation, production, and distribution. This would allow existing operators to more smoothly transition and expand beyond medical use, and fewer companies would have the capacity to enter and compete.
Sensible Florida’s proposal would allow for a horizontally integrated industry; in other words, a business does not need to control its cannabis supply from seed to sale and can simply apply, for example, for a license to open a retail shop, and obtain the cannabis from another entity licensed to cultivate. Floridians could also grow up to six cannabis plants at home, which is not allowed by the other measure.
Each proposal needs 766,200 signatures by Feb. 1, 2020 to make it onto the ballot. Make it Legal Florida has 137,798, while Sensible Florida has 92,503.