Florida Rejects Recreational Cannabis Legalization

The Florida Supreme Court denied a constitutional amendment that sought to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis in the Sunshine State.

In a 5-2 decision, Florida's Supreme Court rejected the amendment, stating that the ballot summary was "misleading."

The proposed legislative effort "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."

The misleading component of the summary, according to the Federal Court, is the word "permits," which failed to highlight the federal illegality of cannabis in the United States.

Critics have argued that it is implied that the amendment is specific to Florida and not federal U.S. law, but the amendment was struck down nonetheless.

The constitutional amendment was sponsored by a group called Make It Legal Florida and had already received 556,049 signatures. The amendment required a total of 891,589 signatures to be put up for referendum, but given the recent rejection, they will need to begin acquiring signatures all over again with a new proposal.

The group had raised close to $8.2 million since beginning its campaigning efforts in late 2019 and has been backed by several large medical marijuana companies.

Had the Federal Court not shut down the effort, and the necessary signatures were acquired, 60% of Floridians would have had to vote "yes" to the measure to enact it into law.

However, a proposed bill seeks to raise the necessary percentage of "yes" votes from 60% to 66%, making constitutional amendments even more difficult in the future.

As such, the legalization of adult-use recreational cannabis in Florida may be further away than anticipated and may become more difficult to enact than it already is.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.