Florida Governor Launches PAC To Fund Campaign Against Legalizing Weed

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday announced the establishment of a new political action committee to fund a campaign to defeat a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Dubbed the Florida Freedom Fund, the new PAC will also raise money to help defeat a separate initiative to protect abortion rights that will appear on the ballot for the November general election.

The political committee was formed in late May, Politico reported on Monday. The group is chaired by James Uthmeier, the governor’s chief of staff who also served as campaign manager for DeSantis’ failed bid for the presidency. The move comes as the governor works to reestablish his leadership over the Florida Republican Party after his failed presidential bid caused his influence to wane.

The Florida Freedom Fund was formed to raise money for the campaign against Amendment 3, which would amend the Florida Constitution to legalize the possession and use of cannabis for adults. The political committee also has set its sights on Amendment 4, which would firmly establish the right to abortion in the Florida Constitution.

Amendment 3 Would Legalize Weed in Florida

More than one million voters signed petitions to place Amendment 3 on the ballot for the 2024 general election. If passed, the constitutional amendment initiative would allow the state’s current providers of medical marijuana, which was legalized in Florida in 2016, to begin selling cannabis to all adults aged 21 and up. Adults would be allowed to purchase up to three ounces of marijuana at a time, including no more than five grams of cannabis concentrates. The bill does not include provisions to expunge past cannabis convictions or the home cultivation of marijuana, which activists feared would lead the Supreme Court to block the measure based on state laws that limit ballot initiatives to a single subject.

The proposed constitutional amendment also allows state lawmakers to authorize additional adult-use cannabis business licenses, although there is no requirement for the legislature to do so. The initiative retains Florida’s current vertically integrated business structure, which requires operators to control the production and marketing of marijuana from seed to sale.

A source familiar with the governor’s plans but not authorized to speak about them said that in addition to the marijuana and abortion initiatives, the Florida Freedom Fund would support other races on the ballot, including seats for local school board elections. A spokesperson for the fund confirmed to Politico that the committee would target races other than Amendments 3 and 4.

“As Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to lead our great state, the Florida Freedom Fund will be championing issues and candidates committed to preserving Floridians’ freedom,” said Taryn Fenske, a spokesperson for the governor, according to a report from Politico. “From up and down ballot races to critical amendments, we’re steadfast in our mission to keep Florida free.”

After the launch of the political committee was announced, a spokesperson for Smart & Safe Florida, the group backing the marijuana legalization initiative, noted that the funds raised by the Florida Freedom Fund will be split between the two amendment initiatives and other races throughout the state. By contrast, the Smart & Safe Florida campaign has already raised more than $60 million, according to state data, with over $13 million cash on hand and a $5 million ad buy currently engaging with voters across the state.

“We are proud of the campaign we are building and the broad support we have across the political spectrum throughout Florida,” Morgan Hill, spokesperson for Smart & Safe Florida, wrote in a statement emailed to High Times. “Just last week, a new Fox News poll showed a large majority of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents support Amendment 3. It’s clear Floridians are more ready than ever to legalize recreational adult-use marijuana.”

The post Florida Governor Launches PAC To Fund Campaign Against Legalizing Weed first appeared on High Times.


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