- The Florida Supreme Court will review a legal challenge by state Attorney General Ashley Moody regarding a proposed ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, citing a violation of the state constitution.
- Opponents must submit their briefs by June 12, and the court will decide whether to hold oral arguments after the deadline.
- The proposed amendment, supported by the committee Safe & Smart Florida, aims to allow adults aged 21 and above to possess and use marijuana for personal non-medical purposes.
The Florida Supreme Court will consider a legal challenge issued by state Attorney General Ashley Moody that contends a ballot initiative seeking to legalize recreational marijuana violates the state constitution.
According to the Florida Courts’ information system, opponents must file their briefs on or before June 12. Following the deadline, the court will subsequently determine whether to conduct oral arguments on the matter.
Earlier this month, 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 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.
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.
By the end of April, Trulieve’s total contributions to Smart & Safe Florida amounted to $38.5 million, accounting for nearly all of the committee’s fundraising. Less than $125 has come from other sources. All but about $100,000 of the money raised by the committee ($38.4 million), has been spent on collecting and validating petition signatures.
As of this month, the initiative is close to reaching its signature threshold, with 786,747 validated signatures out of the necessary 891,523. If adopted, Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers has estimated that Florida’s recreational marijuana market could be worth as much as $6 billion annually.
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 percent 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.