Florida Supreme Court Approves Ballot Measure to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

May 2, 2024 Criminal Defense, Drug Charges, News & Announcements

We’ve previously covered the Smart & Safe initiative to let Florida voters decide if marijuana should be legalized recreationally in the state. The Florida Supreme Court has given response to the challenge made by the Attorney General over the ballot’s language. Despite Ashley Moody claiming that the legalization initiative would confuse voters, the Supreme Court disagreed.

In a 5-2 ruling, the Florida Supreme Court found the proposed ballot language from the Smart & Safe committee fit within the single-subject rule for ballot initiatives. A single-subject rule means that a ballot initiative can only address one single subject, topic, or issue.

In Florida, the specific statutory language regarding ballot initiative is codified under Article XI, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution, which states the following:

“The power to propose the revision or amendment of any portion or portions of this Constitution by initiative is reserved to the people, provided that, any such revision or amendment, except for those limiting the power of government to raise revenue, shall embrace but one subject and matter directly connected therewith.”

In response to Moody’s challenge, Justice Jamie Grosshans claimed that the language of the ballot text would not be too confusing for Florida voters. He also denied the argument that if approved, the measure would require the Legislature to make new licenses for selling marijuana outside the companies that are currently licensed to sell medical marijuana.

“We do not believe the summary would confuse a voter into thinking that the Legislature is required to authorize additional licenses,” the opinion stated. “It clearly states that the amendment legalizes adult personal possession and use marijuana as a matter of Florida law.”

One of the arguments made in Moody’s brief was that Trulieve holds a high market position due to owning 131 out of the 618 medical dispensaries across Florida. She claimed that their ballot language would also not be in the best interest of voters. During November’s oral arguments regarding the ballot measure, Moody’s lawyers argued that “the company was footing the bill for the initiative so it could lure consumers to willfully break federal law in the name of profit.”

Due to the same court justices rejecting similar legalization initiatives from previous years, they all but dismissed Moody’s argument. Justice Grosshans wrote that the amendment does not violate the single-subject rule by causing an impact to the medical marijuana industry.

“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,” the opinion stated.

Despite DeSantis making huge strides with medical marijuana in 2019 by repealing the ban on marijuana “flower,” he has also addressed his concerns over recreational marijuana.

“I think it’s a real, real problem, and I think it’s a lot different than stuff that people were using 30 or 40 years ago,” DeSantis said. “And I think when kids get on that, I think it causes a lot of problems.”

When the medical marijuana initiative was on the 2016 ballot, there were over 71% of Florida voters in favor of the proposal. For the recreational initiative to pass this November, there needs to be at least 60% of voters who vote in favor of ballot measure.

Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers wrote the following statement in response to the ballot provision’s approval by the Florida Supreme Court:

“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.”

Will Marijuana Automatically be Legal for Everyone if the Measure Passes in November?

If Amendment 3 is approved by 60% or more of Florida voters this November, it will legalize “non-medical personal use of marijuana products and marijuana accessories by an adult.”

The proposed amendment would also allow Florida Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC) to “acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell, and distribute marijuana products and marijuana accessories to adults for recreational use…[and] shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law.”

However, there are limitations to the proposal. For one, the new legalization law would not go into effect until six (6) months after the measure is approved. So, if approved, recreational marijuana would become legal from May 2025.

As far as who can purchase marijuana legally, the proposed bill would allow adults 21-years-old or older to purchase marijuana or weed-related accessories from designated stores. Individuals of the legal age will be able to legally possess up to three (3) ounces of marijuana, with up to five (5) grams in the form of concentrate.

To read more about the Adult Personal Use of Marijuana, find our page here.

Tallahassee, Florida Marijuana Defense Attorney

Currently, marijuana is still illegal to possess in Florida on a State and Federal level. The only exception is for individuals with a valid medical marijuana card. That said, you can still be arrested for getting caught with weed. Depending on the amount you were alleged to have in your actual or constructive possession, Florida law enforcement can charge you with simple or felony possession.

If you or a loved one are being prosecuted for a marijuana crime, consider hiring a defense attorney with Pumphrey Law Firm. Our team is knowledgeable and experienced in representing clients faced with drug charges. We can review the details of your case during a free consultation we offer for new clients when you contact our office at (850) 681-7777. Our lawyers aim to provide top-quality defense while making sure your rights are protected throughout the legal process.


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