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Supreme Court ruling: Voters in November will be able to make a decision on recreational weed in FL


Florida Supreme Court justices on Monday approved ballot language for a constitutional amendment that will ask Floridians in November whether they want to legalize recreational cannabis for adults 21 years or older.

The measure must get 60% approval to become law, which is the highest threshold for any ballot measure to be passed in the nation.

The official ballot summary as written “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,” and allows Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers, and other state licensed entities “to acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell and distribute such products and accessories.”

The Supreme Court stated:

“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 justices voted 5-2 in support of putting the amendment on the ballot, with Justices Charles Canady, John Curiel, Jamie Grosshans, Carlos Muniz, and Jorge Labarga concurring.

Justices Renatha Francis and Meredith Sasso dissented.

The proposed amendment had been fiercely opposed by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who claimed in a legal filing last year that the initiative “misleads voters in several key aspects.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who predicted in January that the court would put the proposal on the ballot, recently criticized the measure as having “the broadest language I’ve ever seen.”

The Florida Supreme Court is the final decision-maker determining whether a proposed constitutional amendment makes it on the ballot. Once a measure gathers enough signatures to qualify, the court is charged with determining that the language that will appear on the ballot is clear and limited to a single subject. It can reject measures that don’t meet legal standards, which happened in 2021 when a proposed constitutional amendment regarding the legalization of recreational cannabis came before the Supreme Court.

The 60% approval by voters may not be easy. A Florida Chamber of Commerce poll released in January found that 57% of Florida voters support legalizing recreational cannabis. But that wouldn’t pass. However, a University of North Florida survey conducted on November 30 of last year showed that 67% support the proposal.

Florida has had medical marijuana since 2016, when more than 71% of voters approved a constitutional amendment to make that legal.

Currently, 24 states have legalized recreational weed. They are: Alaska, California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The campaign to get the measure on the ballot has been led by the Smart & Safe Florida political committee. It has spent more than $40 million to date to get more than a million valid signatures to qualify for the Supreme Court review (which this year was 891,523 signatures). Nearly all of Smart & Safe’s funding came from Trulieve, one of the country’s largest multi-state cannabis operators.

In a statement after the court made its announcement, Smart & Safe sent out a message on X with a “Yes on 3” symbol, as the proposal will be known as Amendment 3 on the November ballot. “We are pleased that the Court agreed that the ballot language was clear and correctly ruled in favor of allowing voters the chance to vote on this important initiative. We look forward to bringing our message of allowing adults to safely use cannabis for their own personal consumption to the voters of this state.”

The Florida Chamber of Commerce, who filed a legal brief opposing the proposed amendment with the Florida Supreme Court, blasted the court’s ruling.

“While we respectfully disagree with the court’s decision, the Florida Chamber will continue fighting to protect our constitution from out of state and special interests trying to buy their way into Florida’s Constitution,” said Mark Wilson, the president & CEO of the organization, in a statement. “Recreational drugs, like pigs, don’t belong in Florida’s Constitution.”

There’s no question that the companies who currently hold medical marijuana licenses are going to be among the leading cheerleaders for the amendment to get passed in November.

Matt Darin, the CEO of Curaleaf, said in a press release that since his company received its vertical license in 2016 in Florida, it now has 61 retail locations around the state. “We expect legal cannabis to effectively triple the size of the market in recent years, and are planning to open an additional 20-25 stores by the anticipated launch in June of 2025. This expanded capacity will allow us to be well positioned to serve a thriving adult use market, and to continue to support medical patients.”

House Speaker Paul Renner called the amendment “overly broad.”

“It looks innocuous, but then you start asking yourself, well, can you smoke on a child’s playground? Can you smoke in an elevator? Things that we restricted when cigarettes were concerned and again, the marijuana amendment is so overly broad to serve the self-interests of those who are going to grow it and make billions and billions of dollars off of it ….

“We’ve seen what’s happened in other states that have tried this,” Renner said. “They went too far, too fast.”

Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Florida Phoenix maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Diane Rado for questions: info@floridaphoenix.com. Follow Florida Phoenix on Facebook and Twitter.


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