Floridians to decide on legalized marijuana in November

by | Apr 1, 2024

The Florida Supreme Court has approved a ballot initiative for November that, if passed, would legalize recreational marijuana for adults over 21.

The Florida Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a ballot initiative seeking the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state, allowing Floridians to vote on the matter in November.

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.

“Our role is narrow—we assess only whether the amendment conforms to the constitutionally mandated single-subject requirement, whether the ballot summary meets the statutory standard for clarity, and whether the amendment is facially invalid under the federal constitution,” the Supreme Court order reads. “In light of those limited considerations, we approve the proposed amendment for placement on the ballot.”

If ratified, state economists estimate the initiative could generate between $195.6 million and $431.3 million in annual sales tax revenue. When revenue associated with new tourists drawn to the state by legalized marijuana is taken into account, state economists forecast an additional $43.6 million per year.

The economic 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.

Impact projections further pointed to a slightly positive influence on the state’s economy through an increase in revenue, income, and jobs related to the production and sale of recreational marijuana. Such factors are forecasted to culminate in the state’s Real Gross Domestic Product to rise each year by an average of $3.8 billion, representing 0.32 percent of the annual total.

“We are thankful that the Court has correctly ruled the ballot initiative and summary language meets the standards for single subject and clarity. We look forward to supporting this campaign as it heads to the ballot this Fall,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers, adding that “Trulieve was the primary financial supporter of the initiative during the signature gathering effort and subsequent court challenge and is a proud supporter, alongside a strong coalition of other companies, of the next important phase to educate Floridians on the amendment and secure a yes vote on Amendment 3 this November.”

Across the past year, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody sought to derail the amendment, questioning its compliance with the state law that mandates constitutional amendments to focus on a single subject.

In May, Moody formally requested a review of the initiative, maintaining that a legal precedent established in 2019 insists that the amendment should not reach the ballot due to a technical incongruence with Florida statute.

During oral arguments in front of the Florida Supreme Court in November, Justices scrutinized the state’s effort.

Justice John Couriel, during the arguments, noted that the ballot summary explicitly stated that the amendment “does not change, or immunize violations of, federal law” but applies to Florida law, questioning the perceived ambiguity argued by the state.

Justice Charles Canady, meanwhile, added to the state’s difficulties by expressing he was “baffled” by the presented argument.

A University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab poll published in November suggests strong support for the amendment’s approval, with sixty-seven percent of respondents in favor the purchase and possession of small amounts.

Now on ballots, the amendment will require 60 percent of the vote in order to pass.


%d bloggers like this: