Major Republican donors with a foothold in Florida’s burgeoning medical cannabis industry stand to make big profits if recreational cannabis is legalized.
Last week, reports emerged that Florida could legalize adult-use cannabis in 2024, as its Governor Ron DeSantis suggested it would be on the ballot in November.
According to reports from Marijuana Moment, days before dropping out of the race to become U.S. president, DeSantis said he believed the state Supreme Court would approve the measure, allowing voters to decide.
The court is currently reviewing a legal challenge from the Florida Attorney General seeking to block the vote.
This appeared to be a significant shift in position from DeSantis, who has repeatedly quashed past efforts to advance cannabis legalization.
However, according to reporting from The Intercept, this change in position is likely due to the appearance of a number of key GOP donors who now have a significant stake in the state’s medical cannabis industry.
Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani told the publication, “Clearly there are economic motives here, including for Republican donors, to maintain the current system of vertical integration and legalize cannabis for recreational use.”
As previously reported by Business of Cannabis, Trulieve has donated significantly to both DeSantis and the GOP in recent years.
Trulieve is reportedly responsible for 97 percent ($38 million) of the total funding to the political action committee sponsoring the recreational ballot initiative, Smart & Safe Florida.
However, other medical cannabis companies such as Surterra Wellness are also thought to have given over $60,000 to DeSantis’ state PACs since 2018, while Hackney Nursery, Planet 13 Holdings, Curalead, Cresco Labs, and VidaCann have all given tens of thousands of dollars to GOP committees.
In April, the courts will decide whether voters can vote on the adult-use legalization bill in November, which would go into effect in 2025 if approved.