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Big Donors and the Postal Service Driving Recreational Marijuana Initiative

November 15th, 2019 by Jake Stofan

One of three ballot initiatives seeking to legalize recreational marijuana is picking up steam and raking in large amounts of cash.

The Make it Legal Florida amendment is utilizing an innovative approach get the signatures necessary to make it to the 2020 ballot.

More than 120,000 of the 400,000 signatures the campaign has collected are from voters who received petitions through the mail.

Jeff Sharkey with the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida said it’s the first time a citizen initiative has seen such success by using the postal service to collect signatures.
“They’re sending out these petitions via mail all over the state. I think they’ve realized it’s critical and necessary in order to make the time frame,” said Sharkey.

Sending all that mail comes with a hefty price tag, but the campaign isn’t short on cash.

Backed by Marijuana Tycoons MedMed and Surterra, the initiative received over $1 million in October alone.

Overall, the campaign has pulled in a total of $2.8 million.

All but $1,000 has been donated by MedMed and Surterra.

In contrast, a competing ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana has banked about 14 times less money, just over $200,000.

“If it goes recreational Florida will be maybe on par with California as the largest state for marijuana sales,” said Sharkey. “There will be a positive return on investment for those who have invested in this.”

But the clock is ticking.

The campaign has to reach 766,200 signatures by February 1st.

“I’m glad that the committee has gotten more donations, but folks need to sign those petitions, send them back, if they want to see this question on the ballot,” said Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, who has for multiple years attempted to push legalization of recreational marijuana through the Legislature.

But the success of the continuing mail campaign is making it more likely that Floridians will see the amendment on the ballot next November.

In 2016, medical marijuana received 71 percent voter approval.

Recreational would need at least 60 percent to pass.

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