Floridians Want Weed Legalized Sooner Rather Than Later, According To Signature Campaign

Support for adult-use cannabis legalization is growing rapidly in Florida. According to data from the Florida Division of Elections, the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana obtained 148,418 signatures as of Tuesday evening. At the end of November, the number was 49,692, reported CBS News.

For the proposal to reach the ballot in 2024, the initiative needs 891,589 signatures, plus 222,898 to push for a much-needed Florida Supreme Court review of the proposed ballot wording. The legalization initiative is being led by the Safe & Smart Florida political committee.

The proposal, “Adult Personal Use of Marijuana,” would legalize possession, purchase and consumption for adults over 21. Trulieve TCNNF, Florida's largest MMJ operator, has donated $15 million toward the initiative. Despite being a multi-state operator, the company is focusing on its home state's enormous market potential.

“It’s 22 million residents and 130 million tourists a year, so it's a huge market opportunity,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said in September at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Chicago. “And we're very, very bullish on the prospect of this initiative.”

She added that if the initiative reaches the ballot, the chances of being passed are strong.

Medical Cannabis In Florida

Meanwhile, MMJ sales in the Sunshine State are blooming with $201.6 million in October 2022. In the first six months of the prior year, sales exceeded $1 billion, per Headset data. 

Other medical cannabis companies operating in Florida, such as Red White & Bloom  RWBYF, Columbia Care Inc. CCHWF and Verano Holdings Corp. VRNOF are trying to keep up with demand by opening new stores.

To accommodate them, state regulators awarded 22 additional MMJ treatment center (MMTC) licenses. The number of registered patients in Florida is expected to reach 889,497 by June 30, 2023.

In December, the Florida Department of Health announced new rules to set up the MMJ treatment center application process. New entrants are required to pay a non-refundable application fee of $146,000, while additional costs after securing the license are dramatically higher.

Lawmakers also agreed to substantially raise the license renewal fee. In 2015, MMJ operators had to pay around $60,000 to sell low-THC products. Businesses also have to renew their licenses every two years. According to health department spokesman James Williams III, the renewal fee in 2022 is set at $1.33 million.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis supports the idea of MMJ businesses paying exorbitant fees to operate in Florida.

The state “should charge these people more,” DeSantis last year. “I mean, these are very valuable licenses. I would charge them an arm and a leg. I mean, everybody wants these licenses.”

Photo: Benzinga edit with photos by Ernie114 & PeterPike on Pixabay

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Posted In: CannabisNewsPenny StocksSmall CapMarketsCBS NewsFlorida CannabisKim Riversmedical marijuana GloridaRon DeSantis
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