Group sues state in effort to get recreational pot on 2020 ballot

Reporter: Sara Girard Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

You might have received mail recently about legalizing recreational marijuana in the state. It asks you to sign a petition that would put it on the ballot this year. But the group distributing the petition says the state has put up unnecessary roadblocks to its success.

The group Make It Legal Florida filed a lawsuit targeting a law signed last spring that places more restrictions on signature gathering. The lawsuit calls it unconstitutional, and the group says problems with a state database are hampering efforts to get it on the November ballot for the 2020 general election.

“Whatever you call it, it’s good medicine,” said musician Jimmy Buffett in a video supporting Make It Legal Florida.

While medical marijuana is already legal in Florida, Buffett is talking about recreational weed.

If the proposed constitutional amendment does make it on the ballot, voters would decide whether people 21 and older could have up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use.

WINK News found out what people around town thought of the possibility, and those we spoke to all supported legalizing recreational marijuana in the Sunshine State.

“Yeah, for sure. They should totally legalize it,” said Dave Currie in Fort Myers.

“I think it would probably, maybe attract some tourists,” said Maddie Kingston, visiting from Canada.

“Just like alcohol, just like tobacco, it makes sense,” said Mike Sammons, visiting from Illinois. “And the money is there any way, it may as well go to the state.”

Opponents point to trends out of Colorado, where, since legalization, traffic deaths have doubled in cases of drugged driving. And youth marijuana use initially went up, despite declining in the recent years.

But Make It Legal Florida says its chances of just getting through the petition phase are in danger, leading to a class action lawsuit filed recently against two state officials. Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones told WINK News over the phone that supervisors will continue to process petitions and if they need to make any changes as a result of the lawsuit, they will.

The group says the Feb. 1 deadline for their petition has been undercut by the fact that county supervisors need a 30-day window for verification and reporting of signatures beforehand, effectively making the deadline tomorrow, Jan. 2.

Make It Legal Florida wants more time to get the signatures necessary. It needs 766,200 validated signatures to get the measure on the November ballot. Currently, the Florida Division of Elections shows they have just over 220,000.

Statement from Nick Hansen, Chairman of Make it Legal Florida:

“Across the board, Floridians support Make it Legal Florida’s effort to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older. Our request is that Florida’s Secretary of State, who has worked hard to ensure processes and rules are followed to the letter, count every signed petition submitted by January 31st count toward the 2020 ballot, regardless of when it’s validated. Florida voters deserve to have their voices heard and we remain confident that they will have the opportunity to vote on adult-use cannabis in the fall.”

On the WINK News Facebook page, we are asking you if you think recreational marijuana should be legal in Florida. Weigh in if you haven’t already!

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