Recreational Marijuana Initiative Heads to the Florida Supreme Court

November 22, 2023 Criminal Defense, Drug Charges

The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments on November 8, 2023, regarding the proposed ballot measure that could create a constitutional amendment allowing the recreational use of marijuana for adults.

The proposed initiative would allow adults in Florida who are 21 years old or older to legally purchase, possess, and use marijuana recreationally. That means while medical marijuana cards still exist, the substance is no longer limited for the legal use of individuals who meet specific medical conditions.

The ballot initiative is being led by Smart & Safe Florida, who needs the State Supreme Court to sign off on the ballot’s wording before it can be placed before voters in the November 2024 election.

Smart & Safe Florida

Backed by Trulieve, Florida’s largest medical-marijuana operator, Smart & Safe Florida received enough petition signatures to get on the 2024 ballot.

According to data from the state Division of Elections, there were more than one million voters in Florida who signed the initiative pushing for legalization. In fact, a Forbes article from July indicated that the initiative received more than 120,000 signatures beyond the required 891,000 signatures needed.

Now that enough signatures have been submitted, the initiative heads to the Florida Supreme Court. It’s the job of the Supreme Court to review the proposed ballot and ensure it is not confusing for voters. This could be an issue, as the Florida Supreme Court invalidated two separate marijuana legalization initiatives in 2021.

Changes Under Proposed Ballot Initiative

Titled “Adult Personal Use of Marijuana,” the amendment proposes that adults who are 21 years of age or older can legally possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical purposes. The proposal would allow for the legal consumption of marijuana through means of smoking, ingesting, or otherwise.

Additionally, the amendment would permit Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC) to acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell, and distribute such marijuana products and accessories.

Section (4) of the proposed initiative states: “The non-medical personal use of marijuana products and marijuana accessories by an adult [21 or older], in compliance with this section is not subject to any criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida Law.”

“Personal use” of marijuana implies that an adult 21 or older would no longer need to be considered a qualifying patient for medical marijuana to be able to legally purchase marijuana or marijuana accessories.

Marijuana accessories are defined under the amendment text as “any equipment, product, or material of any kind that are used for inhaling, ingesting, topically applying, or otherwise introducing marijuana products into the human body for personal use.”

Even if the initiative passes, there are still limitations to how much marijuana a Florida citizen can legally have in their possession. Section (13) provides that an individual’s possession of marijuana for personal use shall not exceed 3.0 ounces of marijuana. The only exception is if the person has up to five grams of marijuana in the form of concentration.

If the Florida Supreme Court approves of the proposed marijuana legalization ballot measure, or if they do not issue a ruling by April 1, 2024, then the proposal will appear on the ballot for the 2024 general election. For it to pass into law, the ballot measure must receive at least 60% of the votes cast.

Important: The proposed initiative will only apply to Florida law if it passes; that means it does not change or immunize any violation of federal marijuana laws.


While many Floridians are in favor of legalizing marijuana, there is still opposition to the initiative’s passing. State Attorney General Ashley Moody already filed a challenge to the proposed ballot measure to the Florida Supreme Court.

Moody argued that the legalization initiative should not appear for voters on the 2024 election. Kylie Mason, the communications director with Moody’s office, claimed that the ballot will likely confuse voters:

“When voters decide whether to amend the Florida Constitution, it is essential that they know what they are voting for. It is the duty of our office to address the validity of an initiative before it appears on the ballot. It is incumbent upon us to inform the Court when a ballot summary misleads voters about the effects of the proposed constitutional change.”

However, Steven Vancore, the campaign spokesperson for Smart & Safe Florida disputed the assessment made by Moody’s office in the following statement:

“With all due respect to the Attorney General, we disagree with her analysis. We believe the language as written clearly complies with the requirements of the Constitution. We look forward to bringing this matter to the Florida Supreme Court and are confident that the Court will conclude that there is no lawful basis to set aside the ballot initiative.

This important issue should be entrusted to the citizens of Florida—over a million of whom have already signed the Smart & Safe Florida petition saying they support it—to decide for themselves through democratic choice. If the Court decides it fails to meet any of the standards (single subject, clarity, statement of chief purpose, etc.) then there is no follow-up. It is done. Anyone wanting to bring adult use to Florida would have to start all over again.”

Charged with a Marijuana Crime? Contact a Defense Attorney Today

While the proposed ballot initiative is a great step in the right direction to stop prosecuting Florida citizens for marijuana, it is important to understand that possessing marijuana in any form that is not certified with a medical marijuana card can still result in criminal penalties.

Unless the Florida Supreme Court approves of the ballot and its amendments, and then Florida voters vote in favor of the new legislation, recreational marijuana will remain unlawful to possess in the state. If you or someone you love has recently been charged with a drug crime relating to marijuana, it is in your best interest to hire a defense attorney.

Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have a broad insight into Florida’s complex marijuana laws. We can provide you with defense strategies to fight the charges against you. Our goal is to win back your freedom, whether it be during trial or pretrial hearings. If you’re ready to take on your case and earn you back your life, contact Pumphrey Law Firm at (850) 681-7777 or leave us a message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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