Could Florida be next state to legalize Recreational Marijuana?
Florida Supreme Court reviews proposal to put cannabis vote on 2024 ballot.
Supporters and opponents of recreational marijuana in Florida converged on the state’s high court in Tallahassee on Wednesday, as the Florida Supreme Court reviewed a proposal to put recreational marijuana on the 2024 ballot. The proposal aims to give voters the choice of legalizing recreational marijuana use for individuals aged 21 and older.
Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody, who has been a vocal opponent of this proposal, voiced concerns about the language of the bill. The Attorney General’s Office expressed its stance during the hearing.
“We think in several ways this ballot summary is misleading,” said Jeffrey DeSousa, a representative from the Florida Attorney General’s Office.
The attorney general’s team spoke Wednesday to the state Supreme Court in Tallahassee, contending against allowing voters to decide on the fate of recreational marijuana in Florida. The main point of contention was whether the proposal was misleading because the use of recreational marijuana is still against the law federally, regardless of state law
“There is at least ambiguity in this ballot summary that a reasonable voter could look to and at least think this could not be criminal under federal law,” DeSousa said.
In response, a judge expressed confusion, stating, “When it says it does not immunize under federal law, I don’t see how a voter could be confused. I’m baffled.”
The legal proceedings witnessed an hour of arguments. News4JAX reached out to Moody’s office for additional comment.
Representing the group advocating for recreational marijuana to be included on the ballot in 2024, John Bash emphasized the importance of allowing citizens to amend their constitution.
“It’s a solemn responsibility of citizens and a solid right to amend their constitution,” said Bash, the attorney for Smart & Safe Florida.
Floridians overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana in 2016.
Steve Vancore, a spokesperson for dispensary company Trulieve said in a statement: “We believe that the campaign’s lawyer properly conveyed their case to the Court and remain hopeful that the justices will ignore the political rhetoric, stick to the law and give Floridians the opportunity to vote on this important initiative.”
In a broader national context, recent developments have seen more states embracing marijuana legalization. Ohio recently passed an amendment to its constitution, becoming the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana.
Public opinion on the matter remains divided. In response to an informal poll on News4JAX.com asking how would you feel about recreational use for marijuana in Florida, viewers expressed varying opinions:
Viewer M voiced concerns, saying, “I think it’s a stupid idea...I’m sick of smelling it everywhere I go.”
Christopher was enthusiastic, stating, “Wonderful, it’s way overdue...medically, it’s been a boon for the Sunshine State.”
Heather showed her support, saying, “I would be ecstatic! The next step would be to exonerate everyone for past marijuana convictions.”
Another viewer wrote: “As a medical card holder, my only concerns would be availability of products due to the accessibility to everyone. As I use the products for pain and anxiety I’d hate for availability to become an issue.”
Under current Florida law, anyone in possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana faces a misdemeanor charge with a potential sentence of up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Possession of more than 20 grams is considered a felony, carrying a possible sentence of up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $200,000.
As the Florida Supreme Court deliberates, the fate of recreational marijuana in the Sunshine State remains uncertain.
If the initiative does go before voters, it would need 60% approval in order to amend the state constitution.