TALLAHASSEE — This past Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court crushed a prominent attempt to legalize marijuana.
A constitutional ballot initiative presented by Make It Legal Florida was ruled misleading. Attorney General Ashley Moody ruled against the ballot after asking the justices to inform if the initiative would be fitting for a future ballot. The proposal by Make It Legal would have allowed Florida voters to determine if to permit Floridians, aged 21 and older, to possess and consume as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana. The sponsor behind the initiative had raised $8.2 million for the effort, which is supported by Florida medical marijuana industry. Additionally, Make It Legal Florida had also gathered over 556,000 of the 891,589 signatures necessary so that the measure can make the 2022 ballot. The initiative would have needed 60 percent of the vote in order to be added to the state Constitution had it made the ballot. Make It Legal Florida needs to redraft an entirely new amendment if they expect to make a future ballot. The lawyer representing Make It Legal, George Levesque, submitted a request for comment to the organization’s chairman, Nick Hansen. However, the requests for comment were not responded to by Hansen. In an unsigned opinion, five of the seven justices pointed out the use of the word “permit” in Make It Legal Florida’s initiative ballot summary. The justices contended that the amendment failed to effectively inform Floridians, that marijuana possession and consumption would remain illegal at Federal level despite being allowed under state law. “A Constitutional amendment cannot unequivocally ‘permit’ or authorize conduct that is criminalized under federal law,” Canady wrote. “A ballot summary suggesting otherwise is affirmatively misleading.” Matters such as these have been presented before the Florida Supreme Court on several occasions. According to Canary, when an amendment legalizing medical marijuana onto the 2016 ballot was being considering, the initiative supporters were able to steer clear of this snag. Ben Pollara, who ran the 2016 medical marijuana campaign, stated that Thursday’s decision by the Court highlighted the body’s rightward lean under Gov. Ron DeSantis. Three Court justices, all appointed by DeSantis, voted to strike Make It Legal Florida’s initiative from the amendment. Both the Florida House and Florida Senate filed briefs opposing the initiative. In 2021, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and New Mexico have made marijuana consumption legal, with at least 17 states and Washington D.C. legalizing its recreational use.
CANNABIS CONSUMPTION AND FLORIDA LAW