Florida Fights For Better Cannabis Legislation
The Florida Supreme Court has once again shot down another attempt at passing a new piece of cannabis legalization. Back on Thursday Florida Supreme Court canceled the proposal due to a majority of judges stating its summary is “misleading.”
This is the second citizen initiative that the court has invalidated in 2021 that would have established a regulated marijuana market in the state. Ashley Moody’s who is the Florida Attorney General had her office inquire about a review. This review is in regards to both initiatives with the court and filed briefs opposing the petitions. So as of now, the judges have passed down another loss to those who are in support of cannabis legislation. Looking back at the last time this happened and the decision was decided based on a statutory challenge of a single phrase.
The ballot summary uses the words “limited use” in reference to activities that would be made lawful for adults. But the justices said that makes the measure “affirmatively misleading”. This was because of separate language included in the full text, and it is therefore invalid.
“The ballot summary plainly tells voters that the proposed amendment ‘limits’ the personal use—i.e., consumption—of recreational marijuana by age-eligible persons. But the proposed amendment itself does not do so,” a five-justice majority wrote.
“Even if this language, when viewed in isolation, could somehow be argued to establish a limitation on personal use in an amount equal to a ‘quantit[y] reasonably indicative of personal use or for use by household members,’ any such argument is undermined by the fact that the same section of the proposed amendment further provides that the enumerated quantities ‘are minimum quantities, subject to increase by state, county, or municipal legislation, but not subject to decrease,’” the opinion continues.
Cannabis Legislation In Florida Gets Blocked
“In other words, the proposed amendment establishes a quantity floor below which an age-eligible person cannot be prosecuted. While at the same time authorizing the state and local governments to permit unlimited personal use of recreational marijuana. And although other sections of the proposed amendment leave open the possibility. For example, businesses might decide to limit or prohibit the use of marijuana on their property, the proposed amendment itself does not limit the use of marijuana. But the ballot summary tells voters otherwise.”
Two judges signed onto a dissenting opinion, though it argued that “the dispositive legal issue here is materially different” than in the other nullified situation.
“I agree with the majority that summarizing this proposed amendment as providing ‘for limited use and growing’ of marijuana could be viewed as misleading because ‘use’ could reasonably be understood to mean ‘consumption’ and the amendment places no limitation on the amount of marijuana that a user could consume, as explained by the majority,” Justice Alan Lawson wrote in the dissent.
“However, we must always read the ballot title and summary together if doing so would affect our legal analysis,” he said, adding that “reading the title and summary together, ‘limited use’ could also be understood as a reference to the regulations disclosed in the aptly descriptive title.”
What Will The Future Of Cannabis Legislation Look Like In Florida
What this all means for cannabis advocates in Florida is that the chances of legalization making the 2022 ballot have now dropped significantly. Yet with the fact that both campaigns behind these bills made strong progress in gathering signatures to qualify them.
Before the past court verdict on the tax-and-regulate initiative, the separate Make It Legal Florida campaign accumulated 556,049 signatures. They needed 891,589 to pass their bill. To where unlike the one at the end of the week it would not have allowed growing marijuana from home. So what would be needed is a minimum of 60 percent of voters who would’ve had to pass it on the ballot for it to be approved. The Sensible Florida campaign that’s in the middle of this newest decision had collected 29,180 signatures.
Final Thoughts On Cannabis Legislation In Florida
The Make It Legal Florida campaign had a goal to get a cannabis bill on the ballot in 2020. Yet activists have announced earlier that year that they were shifting focus to 2022 due to restrictive signature-gathering requirements. Recent polling shows that a majority of Florida voters (59 percent) support legalizing cannabis for adult use.
That said, the constitutional revisions that the court denied would have required 60 percent voter approval to be passed. This means activists still would have had their work cut out for them to ensure victory. Especially in a midterm election in which turnout dynamics are typically not as favorable to cannabis reform. Courts have played an outsized role in influencing marijuana reform proposals that voters have supported over the past year.
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