Tensions are rising in the Sunshine State as Florida’s pro-marijuana initiative, spearheaded by Smart & Safe Florida, inches closer to the ballot. However, there is no guarantee that it will make it there unscathed, as conservative forces, including Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Republican ties, have thrown obstacles in its path.

Moody, a staunch ally of Governor Ron DeSantis, who has endorsed his White House campaign, has filed a brief with the conservative-leaning state Supreme Court, urging for the initiative to be struck down. The initiative, which would allow adults aged 21 and older to obtain marijuana for non-medical use, has already garnered more than 960,000 signatures, surpassing the threshold required for ballot qualification.

“We are confident that the Florida Supreme Court will see that we followed the law and their guidance in drafting this initiative and reject the last-ditch efforts to prevent Florida voters from making this decision for themselves, as the Constitution provides,” stated a Smart and Safe Florida spokesperson.

Behind the scenes, Axiom, one of the Republican Party’s largest consulting firms, has been revealed as a major player in the pro-marijuana initiative. Axiom, known for its diverse clientele, began working with Smart & Safe Florida in June 2022, months before it signed on with Never Back Down in March 2023, a move that has raised eyebrows due to ideological differences between the two causes.

“Axiom is a company with hundreds of employees where it’s not uncommon to have different team members working on different projects,” explained Chris Pack, an Axiom spokesperson. “Axiom signed with Smart & Safe Florida in June 2022 and Never Back Down in March 2023. These two entities are totally separate from one another, which is why nobody in the media has written about this since it was first reported on months ago.”

The involvement of Axiom and Vanguard, another consulting firm, has been pivotal in the pro-marijuana initiative. Combined, they account for over 70 percent of the total funds spent by Smart & Safe Florida, making them essential to the campaign’s success.

Governor Ron DeSantis, while expressing openness to medical marijuana, remains staunchly opposed to recreational use. He has tightened advertising restrictions and reiterated his opposition during his presidential campaign, citing concerns about the drug’s impact on workforce readiness.

As the battle over marijuana legalization continues to intensify in Florida, the fate of the initiative remains uncertain, hinging on legal challenges and political agendas.

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