Florida-based cannabis giant Trulieve recently doubled its contribution to the Smart & Safe Florida political committee with another $5 million toward a 2024 ballot initiative to legalize adult-use cannabis.
Now with $10 million invested in the reform effort, Trulieve’s second financial input came less than a month after the multistate operator contributed its original $5 million to the ballot campaign. So far, the committee has not received any other monetary contributions as of a Sept. 2 filing period, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
Smart & Safe Florida, chaired by David Bellamy of the music duo the Bellamy Brothers, filed its campaign measure Aug. 8 with the Division of Elections and received approval Aug. 23 to circulate the petition.
The Adult Personal Use of Marijuana—the ballot measure’s title—will need 891,589 valid signatures by early 2024: The deadline for signature verification is Feb. 1, 2024, with election officials needing 30 days to check signatures before that deadline.
The measure aims to legalize the possession, purchase and use of cannabis products and accessories for adults 21 and older, including up to 1 ounce of dried flower or 5 grams of concentrate. The measure would allow Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) and other state-licensed entities to acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell, and distribute such products and accessories.
In addition, the Florida Legislature would be able to enact legislation for the licensure of entities that are not currently MMTCs—the overarching term for vertically integrated businesses as defined in the state’s medical cannabis program—to participate in the state-legal market for adults.
Currently, there are 22 MMTCs serving Florida’s roughly 750,000 registered patients through 474 retail facilities, according to the Office of Medical Marijuana Use’s weekly update from Sept. 9. Trulieve is the state’s largest MMTC with 120 dispensaries, more than doubling any other operator. Verano has 59 MÜV dispensaries, Curaleaf has 51 dispensaries, Ayr Wellness has 51 Liberty Health Sciences dispensaries and Parallel has 45 Surterra Wellness dispensaries.
“It’s all about improving access,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel about her company’s contribution when Smart & Safe Florida launched last month.
“We came into this with a mission to provide access to high-quality products that are safe and have an appropriate value proposition to give folks control over their—in the original days—medical journey,” she said. “I don’t think that changes here. I mean, in effect we are, at our core, about expanding the opportunity for access to safe, legal product, which is what this would allow us to continue to do.”
With the $10 million in contributions so far, Smart & Safe Florida has sent $5 million to Missouri-based Axiom Strategies and $1.5 million to Arizona-based Vanguard Field Strategies of Arizona—to assist with the signature-gathering campaign—Florida Politics reported.
The 2024 initiative campaign comes after a pair of 2022 ballot measures were struck down by the Florida Supreme Court in April 2021 and June 2021, when justices ruled in 5-2 decisions that:
a “Make it Legal Florida” initiative misled voters by failing to disclose that cannabis would still be illegal under federal law; and a “Sensible Florida Inc.” initiative misled voters because the text of the proposed amendment itself did not limit the personal “use” of cannabis like the ballot summary led voters to believe.
Advocates behind the Trulieve and Bellamy Brothers-backed 2024 initiative hope to avoid those judicial hiccups.
“Almost half of Americans now legally enjoy this freedom,” David Bellamy said last month in a Smart & Safe Florida video launching the campaign.
“And we know Floridians are ready,” his brother, Howard Bellamy, said.
“More than ready,” David said.
“To finally stop arresting adults who use marijuana,” Howard said.
“To ensure everyone’s safety in a system that allows adults over 21 to safely use cannabis products and avoid illicit or illegal sales and let freedom ring in Florida,” David said.