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FLORIDA SUPREME COURT RULES AGAINST MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION

TALLAHASSEE — This past Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court crushed a prominent attempt to legalize marijuana.

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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

Recreational marijuana in Florida is legal. But what happens when negligent marijuana consumption leads to bodily injury, property damage, or losses, or wrongful death? In Miami, the Perazzo Law Firm understands the effects that negligent marijuana use can have on motorists, machine operators, service providers, and on any individual that consumes marijuana negligently. Marijuana that is high in THC can cause consumers to experience side-effects that can hinder the proper performance of tasks such as driving, operating machinery, or providing a public service. To fully understand the effects of marijuana consumption, no matter if medical or recreational, In the event of an accident, if the party at fault is suspected of negligent cannabis consumption, THC levels require lab testing of the cannabis consumed prior to or at the time of an accident would have to help determine negligent marijuana use that leads to personal injury and a possible personal injury claim for compensation.

CANNABIS CONSUMPTION AND DRIVING

In Miami, the Perazzo Law Firm staff of professional attorneys understand the effects that cannabis consumption, especially when containing high levels of THC, can have on the mental or physical condition of the marijuana user. But who’s to say stoners don’t drive well? While medical THC consumption offers many health benefits through cannabis pills, oils, edibles, and vapes; what negative effect can it have on those operating a motor vehicle or performing a task that requires focus for the well-being of others? Today, thirty-three U.S. states have made marijuana consumption legal, with only 10 states forbidding marijuana possession or consumption, regardless of medical prescriptions or foundations. In Miami-Dade, prosecutors have determined that the cost of charging those found consuming marijuana on a recreational basis is by far too expensive because of lab tests, court proceedings and other factors that make arresting someone on marijuana possession simply not worth the effort. In Florida, possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor, and such cases will not be prosecuted based on the lack of police crime labs in South Florida that are capable to testing for THC. At present, highway drug testing by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement labs are only able to test the presence of THC but lacks the ability to measure the about of THC, which is the chemical that gets users high. Regardless, a person in possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis and products containing 600 milligrams or less of THC would face reduced penalties. Currently, possession in these amounts is a first-degree misdemeanor, with penalties including a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. But how does driving under the cannabis influence become a legal problem? Today, Miami-Dade police officials can no longer stop motorists based on a cannabis stench present within a motor vehicle. So how does this affect other motorists or pedestrians if drivers are behind the wheel high as kites and cause an accident? In Miami, the Perazzo Law Firm understands the growing complication faced by Florida law enforcement agencies when it comes to legal recreational marijuana consumption which stems from not being able to detain users as a result of the new hemp law.

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