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Florida Supreme Court Clears Marijuana Legalization Initiative for November Ballot [FEATURE]

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1208)

Residents of the nation's third most populous state will have the chance to legalize marijuana in November after the state Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a last shot at blocking it by Republican state Attorney General Ashley Moody. That clears the way for the Adult Personal Use of Marijuana constitutional amendment to appear on the ballot.

Miami Beach. Will weed be legal here soon? (Pixabay)
The amendment would allow people 21 and over older "to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption by smoking, ingestion, or otherwise," and it would permit medical marijuana treatment centers and other state licensed entities "to acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell, and distribute such products and accessories."

It sets a personal possession limit of three ounces and five grams of concentrates but has no provision for home cultivation or expungement.

It is sponsored by Smart and Safe Florida and bankrolled to the tune of $40 million by medical marijuana operator Trulieve, which stands to benefit immensely from being able to turn its existing "Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers" into adult-use cash cows with legalization. The legislature would have the option of opening up retail sales to other licensees later.

In his advisory opinion, Justice Jamie Grosshans said the court would allow the amendment to go to the voters because it met requirements on subject matter and clarity.

"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," wrote Grosshans, an appointee of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who opposes legalization. "In light of those limited considerations, we approve the proposed amendment for placement on the ballot."

The amendment will need to win 60 percent of the vote to be approved. Florida is the only one of the 24 initiative states that imposes that high bar for passage.

Activists and interested parties alike welcomed the ruling.

"We are 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," said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers in a press release greeting the decision.

"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," Rivers added.

"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," Smart and Safe Florida said in a statement.

"This is one of the most important cannabis legalization campaigns in recent years," said Matthew Schweich, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in a statement emailed to supporters. "We have the opportunity to end the injustice of cannabis prohibition for over 22 million Americans.

"The challenge in Florida is reaching the 60 percent mark,” added Schweich. "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."

The same day the state Supreme Court gave the marijuana initiative the go-ahead, it also approved an abortion rights initiative. Those are two solid reasons for progressives to get to the polls in November, which could make the presidential race in the Sunshine State just a little more interesting, as well.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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