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Florida Supreme Court says recreational marijuana will be on the ballot in 2024

A large green flowering bud on a marijuana plant growing outside.
Meliha Gojak/Melica
A large green flowering bud on a marijuana plant growing outside.

The ballot initiative could allow those over 21 to purchase and consume marijuana and make it legal for medical marijuana clinics to sell for recreational use in Florida.

The Florida Supreme Court has approved language for a 2024 ballot initiative that could legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

The Court released its opinion Monday afternoon, hours before the final deadline. The ballot initiative would amend the Florida Constitution to allow those over 21 to purchase and consume marijuana and keep medical marijuana clinics and future licensed businesses from receiving criminal penalties for selling the plant for recreational use.

The proposal was in court because it was challenged by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and other groups. Attorneys from her office argued at the Supreme Court that by both decriminalizing and allowing pot to be sold recreationally, the initiative was covering more than one subject and violating ballot initiative rules.

The Supreme Court disagreed with that argument.

“Allowing businesses to distribute personal-use marijuana, and authorizing individuals to possess it, are logically and naturally related as part of a dominant plan or scheme. Legalization of marijuana presumes the product will be available for the consumer. Likewise, the sale of personal use marijuana cannot be reasonably undertaken while possession is criminalized,” the opinion reads.

Their stance on the issue is not surprising. During oral arguments on the case last November, Justice Charles Canady criticized the state’s argument.

“It seems like this is turning the single subject requirement not into anything other than a straight jacket on the people. We may think the people, people may well think that the people if they adopted this would be making an unwise choice, but that is a different question than whether the constitution precludes them from acting effectively in this arena,” he said.

Smart and Safe Florida, the group that pushed to get the issue on the ballot, issued a statement shortly after the ruling saying they are pleased with the decision.

“We look forward to bringing our message of allowing adults to safely use cannabis for their own personal consumption to the voters of this state,” the group wrote.

In a press conference shortly after the release of the decisions, Florida House Speaker Paul Renner staunchly criticized the ballot initiative.

“The marijuana amendment is overly broad, um, to serve the self-interests of those who are going to grow it and make billions and billions of dollars off of it,” he said.

Recreational pot is now set to be a tent pole issue to drive Florida voters to the polls on November 5th. 60% of Floridians will need to vote for the change to enact it. A poll from the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab last year found that 70 percent of Floridians polled supported the change.
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Tristan Wood