- Florida’s Attorney General has asked for a review of a proposed recreational marijuana initiative by the Florida Supreme Court, challenging its legal adequacy for the 2024 ballot.
- The initiative, sponsored by Safe & Smart Florida, has obtained the necessary petition signatures for the Supreme Court review, but AG Ashley Moody believes the proposed amendment fails to meet the requirements of state law.
- Trulieve, the state’s largest medical marijuana producer, plans to meet Moody in court and argues that the proposed amendment meets the necessary legal standards and should be allowed on the ballot for voters to decide.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has formally requested a review of a proposed recreational-marijuana initiative by the Florida Supreme Court, signaling her intent to challenge its legal adequacy for the 2024 ballot. The political committee sponsoring the initiative, Safe & Smart Florida, has surpassed the required 222,881 petition signatures to necessitate the Supreme Court review.
Moody initiated the request on Monday, following notification last month from Secretary of State Cord Byrd. The Supreme Court’s role is to determine if the proposed constitutional amendments adhere to single subjects and if the ballot language is clear and precise.
In her submission, Moody indicated her belief that “the proposed amendment fails to meet the requirements” of specific state law. However, she withheld further details, promising “additional argument through briefing at the appropriate time.”
But Trulieve spokesman Steve Vancore made it clear that the company planned to meet Moody in court.
“We believe the ballot language meets Florida’s single subject and related laws and look forward to the Smart & Safe campaign bringing this matter before the court where we expect a positive ruling,” Vancore said. “As a majority of American adults now enjoy the freedom to use cannabis for personal consumption, we hope the court will agree that the Smart & Safe amendment meets Florida’s ballot sufficiency laws and will allow the voters to have a vote on this important matter.”
To secure a place on the November 2024 ballot, Safe & Smart Florida requires the Supreme Court’s approval and a total of at least 891,523 validated petition signatures. As of Monday, the state Division of Elections website reported 786,747 validated signatures.
The Safe & Smart Florida campaign also responded to Moody’s position on the matter.
“We appreciate General Moody’s transmittal to the Supreme Court but respectfully disagree with her statement that she believes it does not comply. We very much look forward to her analysis but more importantly to both written and oral arguments before the Florida Supreme Court and a positive ruling from that court,” the campaign said in a written statement. “As an aside, it is important to note that the opinion of the Attorney General is not binding and that this matter will be decided after both sides have had their say before the Florida Supreme Court.”
The proposed amendment, entitled “Adult Personal Use of Marijuana,” would allow individuals 21 and older to “possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption.” The move comes after Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment for the broader use of medical marijuana in 2016.
Moody, maintaining her position from 2019, insists that the amendment should not reach the ballot. She cited a law mandating constitutional amendments to be limited to a single subject and be in full compliance with state law’s technical requirements.
The amendment’s proposed changes would remove criminal liability or civil sanctions for non-medical use of marijuana. Additionally, it would authorize all licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers in the state to produce and sell recreational cannabis products.
Despite the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes in 2016, Florida residents and visitors are still prohibited from using marijuana without a prescription. Trulieve, the state’s largest medical marijuana producer, has heavily backed the effort to legalize adult recreational use.
Before any constitutional amendment can become a part of the Florida Constitution, it must gain approval from the Florida Supreme Court and secure the backing of 60% of voters in the General Election. Previous attempts to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida have faced rejection from the high court, citing concerns about decriminalization under state law while federal law continues to outlaw marijuana use.