Florida Supreme Court blocks recreational marijuana amendment over ‘misleading’ language

Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida will not be taking the next step toward legalizing recreational marijuana after a proposed state constitutional amendment failed to push through opposition in the Florida Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court blocked the proposed ballot measure in a 5-2 vote. The measure, intended for 2022, sought to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, citing language that would be “affirmatively misleading to voters,” as defined by state law.

Had the proposed ballot initiative passed, it would have put legalizing weed in Florida voters’ hands.

In the court’s opinion, the ballot measure’s summary is unclear about using marijuana recreationally in Florida regarding the restrictions in place under federal law.

The proposed amendment’s summary, by law, has to be at most 75 words. The version submitted reads as follows:

Permits adults 21 years or older to possess, use, purchase, display, and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and marijuana accessories for personal use for any reason. Permits Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers to sell, distribute, or dispense marijuana and marijuana accessories if clearly labeled and in childproof packaging to adults. Prohibits advertising or marketing targeted to persons under 21. Prohibits marijuana use in defined public places. Maintains limitations on marijuana use in defined circumstances.

Sample Ballot Measure for “Adult Use of Marijuana.”

At issue is the use of the word “permits” without clarifying that it refers only to use “under Florida law.” The court says the use of “permit” on its own did not clarify that the “conduct” in question will only be free of criminal or civil liability in Florida.

The amendment’s language would be misleading, the Supreme Court alleges, because a state constitutional amendment “cannot unequivocally ‘permit’ or authorize conduct that is criminalized under federal law.” They say the ballot summary suggests otherwise, making it “affirmatively misleading,” according to state guidelines.

The initiative had passed several hurdles to make it this far, receiving 222,898 signatures needed for a judicial and financial impact review. Statewide, the Florida Elections site that tracks initiative petitions showed 556,049 valid signatures in support of the measure.

To make ballot position, the initiative would need 891,589 signatures in 2022, or 8% of the total votes cast in the most recent presidential election.

The decision by the court essentially kills any chance of the measure making it to the ballot for voters to decide. Still, “Make It Legal” could submit another draft and start from the beginning to try and get their proposed initiative on the ballot in time for a 2022 vote.

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