By Chris Walsh
Polls show differing levels of support for medical cannabis legalization in Florida, Illinois gears up for MMJ applications and a study examines the impact of marijuana delivery services.
Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the marijuana industry over the past week:
Florida Polls All Over the Board
Two polls surfaced this week that attempt to gauge the level of support for Amendment 2, the measure to legalize medical marijuana in Florida.
One – conducted by a firm called Gravis Marketing – found that 64% of registered voters surveyed would vote “yes” on the initiative. Cannabis advocates rejoiced, saying the measure appears poised for success just two months out from the election.
But not so fast.
Shortly after Gravis released its survey data, a separate poll by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service emerged, finding support levels at just 57%. The poll was conducted in collaboration with the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research, the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9.
The two polls differ in several ways. But they both use language from the text of Amendment 2, so they are similar in a key regard.
The result of the Bob Graham Center poll is cause for huge concern, as the MMJ measure needs 60% of the vote to pass. If it’s the more accurate of the two polls, medical marijuana might not become a reality in Florida this November.
What’s more, both polls show lower levels of support than one taken in June by the main group behind the legalization bid (70% said they would vote yes on Amendment 2) and another one conducted over the summer (nearly 90% said they back MMJ in general).
The big question now: Is support slipping, or are the polls so different that you can’t even compare them?
At the very least, the passage of Amendment 2 is not “the slam dunk that previous polls suggested,” Dr. Christopher McCarty, director of the University of Florida’s economics and research bureau, told the Tampa Bay Times. “There are still a lot of people who don’t know about it, haven’t thought about it or haven’t made up their minds.”
Opening the Floodgates in IL
And they’re off.
Illinois finalized its application forms earlier this week for MMJ business licenses. The move paves the way for entrepreneurs to submit paperwork when the application period officially kicks off on Monday. The state will accept submissions until Sept. 22, giving applicants a very short window to get everything together.
Business interest is already strong, and Illinois could receive hundreds of applications for the 60 dispensary licenses and 22 cultivation permits it plans to award. That’s certainly been the case in other states that have recently gone through the application process, including Nevada and Massachusetts.
Illinois also began accepting applications from patients this week, and one official said thousands could sign up by the end of the year.
Delivery Services Under Microscope
A new study released Wednesday by the University of California, Los Angeles, has the potential to spur regulatory action over marijuana delivery services in the state and elsewhere.
In the report, researchers surveyed residents in roughly 50 California cities on their medial and recreational marijuana use.
The findings indicate that while access to marijuana dispensaries correlates most closely with the amount of marijuana consumed, the availability of delivery services also had a strong effect on demand for cannabis.
The takeaway that regulators will focus on is that banning dispensaries themselves may not be sufficient if the goal of the regulation is to reduce drug use. Curtailing delivery services, then, may become a focal point of regulatory efforts.
Delivery services have flourished in California in recent months, as the patchwork regulatory environment in the state has caused dispensaries to suddenly close.