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Florida Voters Will Decide On Marijuana Legalization In November As Supreme Court Rejects Attorney General’s Move To Block Ballot Measure



Florida’s Supreme Court has ruled against the state attorney general and will allow a marijuana legalization initiative to appear before voters on the November ballot.

While Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) asked the court to invalidate the ballot measure, the justices sided with advocates and affirmed its constitutionality on Monday.

The decision comes more than four months after justices heard oral arguments in the case against the Smart and Safe Florida campaign last November.

Moody’s main argument was that the ballot initiative is affirmatively misleading, in part because she says voters would not be able to understand from the summary that marijuana would remain federally illegal even if Florida moved to legalize.

The court disagreed, however. And now voters will get the chance to decide on legalization after a prior marijuana reform ballot measure was invalidated on constitutional grounds by the same court in 2022.

“Our role is narrow—we assess only whether the amendment conforms to the constitutionally mandated single-subject requirement, whether the ballot summary meets the statutory standard for clarity, and whether the amendment is facially invalid under the federal constitution. In light of those limited considerations, we approve the proposed amendment for placement on the ballot,” the court majority said in its opinion.

The campaign and supporters have maintained that the court needed to respect the intent of the citizen initiative process and allow voters the opportunity to decide on the issue after they turned in nearly one million signatures for ballot placement that have been certified by the state.

While opponents of the initiative contended that it violates a constitutional single-subject rule because it would both legalize marijuana and regulate commercial sales, the court majority said it disagrees.

“Allowing businesses to distribute personal-use marijuana, and authorizing individuals to possess it, are logically and naturally related as part of a dominant plan or scheme,” the justices wrote. “Legalization of marijuana presumes the product will be available for the consumer. Likewise, the sale of personal-use marijuana cannot be reasonably undertaken while possession is criminalized.”

“Selling and possessing marijuana appear, for better or worse, directly connected, and we cannot say that an amendment addressing both components violates the single-subject requirement,” they said.

Justices also disputed opponents’ various claims that the initiative’s text is affirmatively misleading.

“We therefore approve the proposed amendment for placement on the ballot,” the majority opinion says. “No rehearing will be permitted.”

Kim Rivers, CEO of the multi-state cannabis company Trulieve that financially supported the legalization campaign, said that the company is “thankful that the court has correctly ruled the ballot initiative and summary language meets the standards for single subject and clarity.”

“We look forward to supporting this campaign as it heads to the ballot this Fall,” she said. “Trulieve was the primary financial supporter of the initiative during the signature gathering effort and subsequent court challenge and is a proud supporter, alongside a strong coalition of other companies, of the next important phase to educate Floridians on the amendment and secure a yes vote on Amendment 3 this November.”

Matthew Schweich, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), called the Florida initiative “one of the most important cannabis legalization campaigns in recent years.”

“We have the opportunity to end the injustice of cannabis prohibition for over 22 million Americans,” he said. “The challenge in Florida is reaching the 60 percent mark. We need a well-funded campaign but just as importantly we need a strong grassroots operation that can mobilize support and turn out pro-legalization voters.”

If approved, the measure would change the state Constitution to allow existing medical cannabis companies in the state like Trulieve to begin selling marijuana to all adults over 21. It contains a provision that would allow—but not require—lawmakers to take steps toward the approval of additional businesses. Home cultivation by consumers would not be allowed under the proposal as drafted.

Adults 21 and older would be able to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis, only five grams of which could be marijuana concentrate products. The three-page measure also omits equity provisions favored by advocates such as expungements or other relief for people with prior cannabis convictions.

Separately, economic analysts from the Florida legislature and the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) estimate that the marijuana legalization initiative would generate between $195.6 million and $431.3 million in new sales tax revenue annually if voters enact it. And those figures could increase considerably if lawmakers opted to impose an additional excise tax on cannabis transactions that’s similar to the ones in place in other legalized states.

Here’s what the Smart & Safe Florida marijuana legalization initiative would accomplish:

  • Adults 21 and older could purchase and possess up to three ounces of cannabis for personal use. The cap for marijuana concentrates would be five grams.
  • Medical cannabis dispensaries could “acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell, and distribute marijuana products and marijuana accessories to adults for personal use.”
  • The legislature would be authorized—but not required—to approve additional entities that are not currently licensed cannabis dispensaries.
  • The initiative specifies that nothing in the proposal prevents the legislature from “enacting laws that are consistent with this amendment.”
  • The amendment further clarifies that nothing about the proposal “changes federal law,” which seems to be an effort to avoid past legal challenges about misleading ballot language.
  • There are no provisions for home cultivation, expungement of prior records or social equity.
  • The measure would take effect six months following approval by voters.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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Here’s the full text of the ballot title and summary:

“Allows adults 21 years or older to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption by smoking, ingestion, or otherwise; allows Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers, and other state licensed entities, to acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell, and distribute such products and accessories. Applies to Florida law; does not change, or immunize violations of, federal law. Establishes possession limits for personal use. Allows consistent legislation. Defines terms. Provides effective date.”

The multi-state marijuana company Trulieve has contributed more than $40 million to the Smart and Safe Florida campaign to date. The state attorney general has accused the company of supporting the measure in order to have a “monopolistic stranglehold” on the state’s cannabis market.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce released a poll in January showing that a marijuana legalization initiative that may appear on the November ballot enjoys majority support from likely voters—but not quite enough to meet the state’s steep 60 percent threshold for passage.

Other previous polls have found that voters are well-positioned to pass the legalization initiative with more than enough support. For example, the University of North Florida put out a survey in December that showed 67 percent of voters back the proposal.

While Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) opposes the reform—and pledged not to federally decriminalize marijuana if elected president when he was running—he predicted in January that Florida voters will get a chance to decide on the issue this time.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

That said, the governor has raised concerns about cannabis legalization in Florida, saying there could be a “big problem” with some of the provisions of the initiative and complaining that letting adults legally consume cannabis could impact businesses and communities—including as the result of odor.

DeSantis also weighed in on another relevant cannabis policy issue recently when he said that he doesn’t believe the federal gun ban for state-legal marijuana consumers is constitutional. Florida’s former agriculture commissioner brought a lawsuit against the Biden administration over the rule, though the governor did not get involved.

Meanwhile, a Florida bill that sought to cap THC potency if voters approved the legalization initiative at the ballot died this session, much to the relief of cannabis advocates and stakeholders.

Legislation to restrict consumable hemp products and ban delta-8 THC was approved by lawmakers and awaits DeSantis’s action.

Separately, a House subcommittee recently advanced a medical marijuana bill that would waive patient registration and renewal fees for service-disabled military veterans.

Read the Florida Supreme Court opinion on the marijuana legalization initiative below: 

Virginia GOP Governor Still Doesn’t Have ‘Any Interest’ In Signing Marijuana Sales Bill As Democratic Legislature Approves Plan

Photo elements courtesy of rawpixel and Philip Steffan.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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