- The Florida Supreme Court granted state Attorney General Ashley Moody an extension to file briefs in contention to an initiative seeking to put a recreational marijuana referendum on 2024 ballots.
- The state’s highest court authorized a seven-day extension to Moody, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the Drug Free America Foundation after they collectively petitioned for a new deadline date, citing “numerous other responsibilities during the relevant period.”
- In May, Moody 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.
- Economic impact projections estimate an increase in revenue, income, and jobs related to the production and sale of recreational marijuana and could cause Real Gross Domestic Product to rise each year by an average of $3.8 billion.
The Florida Supreme Court this week granted state Attorney General Ashley Moody more time to file a Reply Brief in contention to an initiative seeking to put a recreational marijuana referendum on 2024 ballots.
The state’s highest court authorized a seven-day extension to Moody, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the Drug Free America Foundation after they collectively petitioned for a new deadline date, citing “numerous other responsibilities during the relevant period.”
“Counsel for each of the opponents have numerous other responsibilities during the relevant period,” reads the request. “For example, counsel for the Attorney General, apart from having supervisory responsibilities within the Office of the Solicitor General, is the principal drafter of two other briefs during that period, including a First District brief … and a Second District en banc supplemental brief.”
In May, Moody 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, surpassed the required 222,881 petition signatures in April to necessitate a Supreme Court review of the amendment.
In June, the committee procured 967,528 valid signatures, surpassing the required number to send the proposal to voters.
The Florida Supreme Court stated on May 30 that they will consider Moody’s challenge, which asserts that the ballot initiative violates the state constitution.
In her submission, Moody indicated that “the proposed amendment fails to meet the requirements” of specific state law. However, she withheld further details, promising “additional argument through a briefing at the appropriate time.”
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 a previously-established position from 2019, insists that the amendment should not reach the ballot, citing a law that mandates 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 the non-medical use of marijuana, additionally authorizing all licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers in the state to produce and sell recreational cannabis products.
If the amendment can clear the Supreme Court, and voters ultimately approve it by a 60 percent vote, Florida’s legal retail market is expected to be fully operational about six months later, largely depending on how lawmakers choose to regulate the drug.
Amy Baker, the Coordinator for the state’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, noted during a Financial Impact Estimating Conference (FEIC) this month that the minimum annual increase in government revenues due to recreational marijuana is estimated to be $146.4 million. When additional revenue associated with new tourists drawn to the state by legalized marijuana is taken into account, state economists predicted an additional $43.6 million per year.
Regulatory changes at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation could cost $9.1 million annually, according to Baker, with an additional $1.5 million for startup, though it is projected that new license fees will completely offset those expenses.
The FIEC statement also noted potential savings from reduced marijuana-related crimes and incarceration costs, though some of those savings may be balanced by increased costs from a rise in DUI arrests.
Similarly, the potential for more marijuana-related health issues was acknowledged, but the specific impact remains uncertain due to ongoing research and the fact that many prospective participants in the legal market are currently using marijuana illicitly.
Economic impact projections also pointed to a slightly positive influence on the state’s economy. The increase in revenue, income, and jobs related to the production and sale of recreational marijuana could cause Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to rise each year by an average of $3.8 billion, representing 0.32 percent of the annual total.