DeSantis And Moody’s War On Cannabis Loses Steam: 67% Of Florida Voters Back Legalization

A recent poll by the University of North Florida (UNF) found that nearly seven out of ten registered Florida voters support a cannabis legalization initiative that is expected to appear on a 2024 ballot. The poll showed that there was majority support for the issue across each political, gender, race and age demographic that was reported.

Trouble In The Courts

However, the cannabis initiative is facing a legal challenge from state Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) in the Florida Supreme Court. One of Moody’s main complaints about the ballot initiative proposal is that it does not explicitly spell out the fact that cannabis is illegal at the federal level, which she has called “misleading.”

In August, Moody implied that voters who support legalization are buying into what she called a “reckless” proposal supported by the marijuana giant and “monopolistic” Trulieve Cannabis Corp. TCNNF. Indeed, Trulieve is the primary financial supporter behind Smart & Safe Florida’s (SSF) citizen-led petition with nearly $40 million in contributions.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has also been vocal about his opposition to legalized marijuana, stating concerns about children getting their hands on cannabis that could be adulterated with fentanyl. At an Iowa presidential campaign event in late August, DeSantis said that “drugs are killing this country.”  

The Survey

Democrats showed the highest support at 78%, followed by non-partisans/others at 69%, and Republicans at 55%. The initiative enjoys strong backing from younger voters, particularly those aged 18-24, at 86%, and even from 51% of those aged 65 and over.

“Unlike previous surveys when we simply asked if folks support or oppose legalization of recreational marijuana, this time we gave respondents the specifics of this proposed amendment,” said Michael Binder, faculty director of UNF’s Public Opinion Research Lab, reported WFLA.com. “Yet again, it looks like it has a good chance of passing, if the measure makes it through the courts, and that is a very big ‘if.’”

SSF put forward the amendment earlier this year, and by July had successfully collected enough valid signatures to qualify for a 2024 general election ballot placement.

Then There’s The Money

Economic analysts from the Florida legislature and the office of Gov. DeSantis estimate that the marijuana legalization initiative would generate between $195.6 million and $431.3 million in new sales tax revenue annually if enacted.

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