Florida marijuana legalization initiative has 94% of signatures needed to appear on 2024 ballot

Smart & Safe Florida, a campaign supporting a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Florida, has collected 786,688 valid signatures, 88% of the 891,523 valid signatures needed to be placed on the ballot in 2024.

The initiative would legalize marijuana for adults 21 years old and older. Individuals would be allowed to possess up to three ounces of marijuana (about 85 grams), with up to five grams in the form of concentrate. Existing Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers would be authorized under the initiative to sell marijuana to adults for personal use. The Florida State Legislature could provide by state law for the licensure of entities other than existing Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers to cultivate and sell marijuana products.

The initiative was cleared for signature gathering on Aug. 23, 2022. Since then, the campaign has collected an average of 23,360 valid signatures each week.

Signatures equaling at least 8% of the district-wide vote in the last presidential election must be collected from at least half (14) of the state’s 28 congressional districts. So far, the signature distribution requirement has been met in 12 of the districts. The campaign has collected 99.86% of the signatures needed in District 5 from Duval and St. Johns counties and 88.97% of the number needed in District 13 from Pinellas County, and will likely meet the distribution requirement in those districts after the next monthly signature update.

The campaign has raised $30.5 million, all from Trulieve Cannabis Corp., a marijuana business that operates in several states, including Florida. The campaign has spent $27.42 per valid signature collected so far. According to campaign reports covering information through March 31, 2023, Smart and Safe Florida had paid $23.07 million to Axiom Strategies and Vanguard Field Strategies for signature gathering.

Across all states with an initiative process, the average cost of a petition drive increased 297% from 2016 to 2022. So far, the cost of this signature drive is 463% more expensive than the average signature drive cost in Florida in 2016. The cost of running a successful initiative signature drive in Florida was $4.1 million in 2016, $4.6 million in 2018, and $6.7 million in 2020. No initiatives qualified for the Florida ballot in 2022. Marijuana legalization initiative campaigns in four states spent between $68,000 and $3.66 million on signature drives for 2022 initiatives.

In 2016, voters in Florida legalized medical marijuana through a ballot initiative, which was approved by a vote of 71.32% in favor and 28.68% opposed.

In Florida, constitutional amendments require a 60% supermajority vote of approval to pass. This requirement was added to the state constitution through voter approval of Amendment 3 in 2006. Since then, nine constitutional amendments (including a 2014 medical marijuana initiative) received a majority of votes in favor but failed to reach the 60% threshold and were therefore defeated.

As of May 2023, 21 states and Washington, D.C., had legalized the possession and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. In seven states, bills to legalize marijuana were enacted into law. In 15 states and Washington, D.C., voters approved ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use. The average yes vote was 57.86% and the average no vote was 42.21% with an average margin of victory of 15.65%.

Of the 15 marijuana legalization ballot measures, four received a vote of approval of 60% or higher. The measure with the highest margin of victory was Washington, D.C.’s 2014 initiative, which was approved by a vote of 70.06% to 29.94% for a margin of victory of 40.12%. The measure with the lowest margin of victory was Maine’s 2016 initiative, which was approved by a vote of 50.26% to 49.74% for a margin of victory of 0.52%.

Note: the Florida Division of Elections previously stated that the campaign had submitted 841,130 valid signatures due to an error by one county in reporting signatures to the state. The count posted on the Division of Elections website has since been updated to reflect that the campaign had submitted 786,688 valid signatures as of May 9, 2023.