Marijuana legalization continues to be a hot topic on a federal level. Historically, however, those on the right wing of the political spectrum have always been the strongest voices of opposition. But it appears that even in the biggest conservative strongholds, bipartisan support for legalization is growing.
One such example – according to the Miami New Times – is Florida, a Republican state that (begrudgingly) accepted medical marijuana following public and legal pressure. Seemingly striking while the iron is hot, Florida’s population wishes to up the ante to full legalization, despite strong Republican roots among the electorate.
Judging by recent opinion polls, Florida could soon be the next state to fully legalize recreational marijuana.
Key Issue in 2020
While the Florida government may not be keen on the idea, public pressure is mounting. Like it or not, legalization is something that will have to be addressed:
“With three different petition drives hoping to bring recreational marijuana to Florida, legalization will most likely be on the 2020 ballot.”
To get a feel for how much support exists, the University of North Florida conducted a poll, finding that 64% of Floridians support full marijuana legalization. Furthermore:
“Of those polled, 73 percent of Democrats, 54 percent of Republicans, and 64 percent of independent voters support legalizing marijuana for adults.”
As expected, Republicans were the least amenable to legalization, yet still over half are in favor. This makes legalization one of the few unifying issues in a time when ideological lines are more divided than ever.
To say that the Florida government is under some serious pressure would be an understatement. In fact, there are currently three different active petitions to legalize recreational cannabis in the state.
But the one drive to gain the most traction also has some serious backing:
“To date, the front running Make It Legal Florida initiative, backed by multi-state cannabis companies that stand to gain billions, claims to have garnered more than 100,000 petition signatures since it began last month.”
Granted, the people behind the signatures are ordinary citizens, but it obvious in this case that there is a massive financial agenda behind it.
However, this may not be a bad thing. Having support is important, but having powerful support from the cannabis industry is infinitely better.
On the other hand, there are those who criticize Make It Legal and have concerns about the implications should they succeed in legalizing marijuana:
“Critics have said Make It Legal Florida will make the cannabis industry a monopoly. While the petition organizers say they have obtained more than 100,000 signatures, the state Department of Elections says the group only has 17,873 that are verified.”
It is likely that the state will verify more signatures, since the petitions are still being counted. Still, the involvement of large lobbyists and corporations is a double-edged sword that can help a cause but still lead to negative consequences down the line.
Nonetheless, advocates seem content to have the organization on their side.
Although proponents are optimistic, getting legalization put on the 2020 ballot and approved will take serious legwork:
“State law requires the Florida Supreme Court to review a petition once it receives 76,632 signatures. After the petition is considered, 766,200 signatures are required for a legalization amendment to appear on the 2020 ballot. In order to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida, at least 60 percent of voters would then need to vote for the amendment.”
But with three active petitions – one which (allegedly) has 100,000 signatures – and an average support of 64%, it is safe to say that the cause is close to reaching its minimum requirements for consideration.
Continued Support for Federal Legalization
We always find it encouraging when states progress toward major cannabis reform. But serious talks of legalization in a conservative state like Florida indicate something big.
Legalization has crossed party lines. The growing bipartisan support – although still a little lopsided – is critical in ensuring future changes to drug laws on both a state and federal level.