Florida fighting to legalize recreational marijuana already, even though it is still trying to work out the details of medical marijuana, may seem premature but many advocates think it is just the right time. Michael Minardi, a Florida lawyer, is trying to get enough signatures to add legal recreational cannabis to the ballot in 2018.
Recreational marijuana is legal now in seven of the 29 states that have legalized marijuana in some form, plus the District of Columbia. It all seems to start with the legalization of medical marijuana and then eventually recreational marijuana legalization is added to the voting ballot. While medical marijuana is just getting started under the new laws here in Florida, there is already a movement to gather signatures to add recreational marijuana to the ballot for next year. If recreational marijuana were to be legalized in Florida what would be the specific benefits then of being a medical marijuana patient? Well, there is obviously no way to know but based off of other states, one potential benefit may be discounted prices on medical marijuana relative to recreational marijuana.
More than 71 percent of Florida voters in November agreed marijuana should be used to treat serious illnesses – the highest margin of support among the nine states considering various levels of cannabis legalization last year.
Given that kind of public backing, a group trying to legalize adult recreational cultivation and consumption of the drug hopes 2018 will finally be the year cannabis prohibition fully ends in the Sunshine State.
The organization, Regulate Florida, is making its second — though still under-the-radar — attempt to get its proposed constitutional amendment on the state ballot.
“We have the wind in our sails and the tide of the country on our side. The polls for legalization continue to climb,” said Tampa attorney Michael Minardi, who is leading the legalization effort. “The attitudes and the perceptions and acceptance of this issue has changed dramatically, even since the election of 2016.”
But if funding, staffing and the lack of deep-pocketed backers are any guides, pro-marijuana Floridians probably shouldn’t count on an easy win anytime soon. The group, which claims dozens of volunteers, must collect more than 750,000 valid signatures by early next year to get the measure on the ballot. To date, it’s collected about 20,000, Minardi said.
Minardi’s political action committee, Sensible Florida Inc., has received about $245,000 in donations and in-kind services since 2015, nearly a quarter of which came from Minardi himself.
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