Less than one month is left for an adult use legalization proposal in Florida, a state with a burgeoning medical cannabis industry, to collect enough signatures to make it onto November’s ballot. The effort received a huge cash infusion—millions—last month from two prominent cannabis companies. But the campaign is still lagging far behind the required signature threshold.
Make It Legal Florida took in more than $4.8 million in December, campaign finance records show. That’s more than the group, which launched last August, raised in the previous four months combined. Two of the nation’s largest cannabis companies, Parallel (formerly Surterra) and MedMen, have largely bankrolled the effort.
Parallel gave more than $3.5 million in December, bringing its total contribution to $5.7 million. MedMen committed $1.31 million last month, for a total of just over $3 million to date.
Make It Legal Florida is frantically working to collect the required 766,200 signatures, due by Feb. 1, for the proposed constitutional amendment to appear on the ballot. But so far, it’s turned in only 292,654, according to the Florida Division of Elections website.
The organization on New Year’s Eve sued Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee to extend the deadline, but Leon County Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll has yet to weigh in on the matter. The move stems from a 2019 law that imposed tighter restrictions on ballot proposals. Among other things, it shortened the time groups have to collect signatures and required petition gatherers to register with the state. But Lee was slow to roll out the registration portal and it was plagued by technical glitches.
Make It Legal Florida contends the law “will cause uniquely irreparable constitutional harms to Petition Circulators and Sponsors and Florida citizens.” It’s asking the court to declare the law unconstitutional and issue a preliminary injunction to allow more time to submit petitions.
When the law passed last legislative session, Republican lawmakers defended it as a way to protect elections from outside interference. Grassroots organizations in the state have often used Florida’s constitutional amendment process to sidestep lawmakers on issues upon which they’ve been reluctant to act.