DeSantis expects recreational marijuana legalization measure to appear on ballots

by | Jan 23, 2024



Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Friday that he anticipates a marijuana legalization initiative to be on Florida’s 2024 ballots, pending a Florida Supreme Court decision.


In a statement given on the campaign trail, Gov. Ron DeSantis indicated that he expects Sunshine State voters to see a marijuana legalization initiative on 2024 ballots.

“I think the court is going to approve that,” DeSantis said in New Hampshire on Friday, as reported by Marijuana Moment. “So it’ll be on the ballot.”

The proposed constitutional amendment, backed by Smart & Safe Florida and heavily funded by cannabis retailer Trulieve, aims to permit adults aged 21 and older to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products for non-medical use. The measure has received enough signatures to appear on 2024 ballots, pending an ongoing state Supreme Court review.

Attorney General Ashley Moody has expressed reservations regarding the initiative, questioning its compliance with the state law that mandates constitutional amendments to focus on a single subject.

During oral arguments in front of the Florida Supreme Court in November, Justices scrutinized the state’s effort to block the measure from appearing on the ballot. The state contended that the ballot summary is misleading, arguing it fails to adequately inform voters of marijuana’s illegal status under federal law.

The Attorney General’s office also contended that the ballot summary could mislead voters into believing it would lead to the creation of more licenses for distribution, as it mentions medical marijuana treatment centers and “other state-licensed entities.”

The Justices are expected to rule by April 1st on whether the amendment can be presented to Florida voters, who would need to pass it with a 60 percent majority for it to become law. More than one million Florida voters have already signed petitions supporting the amendment.

Polls on public support for the amendment have shown mixed results. A Florida Chamber of Commerce poll this month found that support in Florida is below the required 60 percent for passage, with only 57 percent of voters in favor. Conversely, in a University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) poll released in November, sixty-seven percent of respondents were in favor of the constitutional amendment.

“Unlike previous surveys when we simply asked if folks support or oppose legalization of recreational marijuana, this time we gave respondents the specifics of this proposed amendment,” said PORL faculty director and professor of political science Dr. Michael Binder. “Yet again, it looks like it has a good chance of passing, if the measure makes it through the courts, and that is a very big ‘if’.”

If ratified, state economists estimate the initiative could generate between $195.6 million and $431.3 million in annual sales tax revenue.

In anticipation of the initiative appearing on ballots, Rep. Ralph Massullo filed legislation this month that, if adopted, would impose limitations on the potency of marijuana for adult personal use.

The bill, House Bill 1269, proposes setting a cap on the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content in marijuana products. Under the measure’s purview, THC — the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis — in smokable marijuana products would be limited to 10 percent by weight or volume.

For other forms of marijuana, excluding edibles, the bill proposes a higher threshold of 60 percent THC in the final product. Edibles, a popular alternative for consuming cannabis, would face even stricter regulations, with a cap of 200 milligrams of THC per product and a 10-milligram limit per serving.

“Marijuana for personal use may not have a tetrahydrocannabinol potency, by weight or volume, of greater than 10 percent for marijuana in a form for smoking or greater than 60 percent in the final product for all other forms of marijuana, excluding edibles,” reads Massullo’s bill. “Edibles for personal use may not contain more than 200 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol and a single serving portion of an edible may not exceed 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol.”

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