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Gov. DeSantis lines up cannabis opposition in Florida

Plus, Senators respond to rescheduling

Good morning.

On April 1, the industry got excited about the prospects of Florida’s legalization measure making it on the ballot. But it’s now May 6th, and GOP opposition to the measure is lining up behind Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

It wasn’t long ago that DeSantis touted Florida as the freest state. And it’s not just Florida that touts freedom but has so far shunned cannabis: New Hampshire is back in the news. 

We’ll also be watching DEA Administrator Anne Milgram’s testimony in front of the House Appropriations Committee, today at 10 am. You can watch it here.

Jeremy unfortunately has COVID, but you’re in good hands with Jay for this newsletter. 

Let’s get to it.

-JB & JR

This newsletter is 1,035 words or about an 8 minute read. 

💡What’s the big deal?

Governor DeSantis lining up opposition — and money — to fight cannabis

What’s happening: With cannabis legalization and abortion rights heading to Florida’s November ballot, Gov. Ron DeSantis is lining up the Republican Party apparatus in the Sunshine State to actively oppose both measures. 

DeSantis and cannabis: Almost immediately after his failed bid for the Republican nomination, DeSantis began speaking out against Florida’s legalization ballot measure — often including his favorite line of attack: “This state will start to smell like marijuana in our cities and counties.” 

He’s made it clear that he opposes this measure, but opposing the measure and actively fighting a political ballot against it are two different things. 

Florida and cannabis: The cannabis legalization measure in Florida passed the State Supreme Court’s muster in April.

It requires a supermajority of 60 percent of voters to pass. But cannabis already has a strong foothold in the state. More than 800,000 patients in Florida are authorized for medical cannabis, by far the most in any state in the US. That accounts for nearly 20 percent of all medical cannabis patients in the nation, according to the Marijuana Policy Project

With nearly 135 million tourists flocking to the state every year and a population north of 20 million, the potential for Florida to be a leading cannabis market in America is obvious.

Republican Governors: Governor DeSantis joins Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s anti-cannabis crusade. Youngkin vetoed a legalization bill in Virginia last month, and now DeSantis is picking up the mantle. 

At the same time, New Hampshire’s outgoing Republican governor, Chris Sununu, is taking a more open approach to cannabis, even if it’s not particularly free-market. 

What’s next? The Florida GOP taking an official position against cannabis allows DeSantis to funnel campaign funds into the anti-legalization fight. 

While nationwide support for legalization is growing, the measure facing official Republican opposition in Florida — with the governor’s backing — could severely hurt the measure’s chance for passing. 

- JR

🗨️ Quote of the day

In a recent press conference, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu reiterated the “8-10 must-haves” in order to garner his signature on a legalization bill. He added:

“Fundamentally I don’t love this idea anyway…I do believe it’s inevitable, and I have a responsibility of setting us up for the best long-term system that we possibly can.”

But, there is a big gap between the bipartisan bill that passed in New Hampshire’s House on April 11 — and now being considered by the State Senate — and where the governor is on this issue. He’s looking for a state-run franchise model, similar to New Hampshire’s alcohol sales. So there may be an impasse. 

You can hear the latest on what’s happening in New Hampshire from a recent check-in with the New Hampshire House Republican Erica Layon, who wrote the bill, and Democratic co-sponsor Anita Burroughs on the legislation on Cultivated Live from two weeks ago.

Quick hits

The biggest publicly traded cannabis companies lost about $2.3 billion last year, according to an analysis from the Green Market Report’s John Schroyer. That’s despite the group driving more than $8.7 billion of revenue. 

Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, doesn’t like rescheduling. But, he does support SAFER Banking. He told Ask a Pol that, “...if it’s gonna be legal then might as well let them use the banks, it just makes it worse…”

On the other hand, Republican Senator Josh Hawley might balance out Johnson, as Hawley opposes SAFER Banking, proving the GOP might not be aligned on cannabis. Hawley was also noncommittal on his support for rescheduling. 

In the same write up fromAsk a Pol, Georgia Democrat Raphael Warnock noted that he supported rescheduling saying, “For too long the war on — so-called war on drugs — has been a war on Black and Brown communities…”

😜 One fun thing

Pod Save America took up the issue of if rescheduling cannabis would bring young people into the Biden camp. They used a very useful analogy. 

😒 One not fun thing

Controversial neuroscientist and podcaster Andrew Huberman gave his thoughts on cannabis and its effects, which were quickly shredded to pieces by physicians (and others) who specialize in cannabis medicine. 

Here’s some of the reaction:

Again, we’d encourage you to understand how unsettled the science is on how cannabis affects the human body by reading Jeremy’s recent story in The Atlantic.

📈 Earnings round-up

Get ready, because it’s about to be earnings season for cannabis companies. We’ll bring you what you need to know, but here’s what’s on tap so you can prepare: 

📰 What we’re reading (and watching)

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