TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — An initiative that aims to put recreational marijuana on the 2024 ballot still has a massive hurdle to clear in the Florida Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, the state’s top court ordered oral arguments on Nov. 8 as part of the judicial review process for the Adult Personal Use of Marijuana ballot measure. Recreational marijuana initiatives made it onto the statewide ballot in 2014 and 2016, but neither surpassed the 60% threshold required to become law.
The Florida Supreme Court rejected a recreational marijuana initiative in 2021 on the basis that the ballot summary did not address its contradiction with federal law. Attorney General Ashley Moody and the opponents in this case have taken similar approach with the 2024 measure.
The petition’s summary states that, if passed, the measure, “Allows adults 21 years or older to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption,” and allows existing dispensaries, called Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MTTCs), to produce and sell cannabis for adult use.
Moody argues the amendment “would not actually allow anything,” because possession of marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
In a brief filed in August, Moody said that because “most Americans cannot name a single Supreme Court justice,” according to a 2018 Newsweek poll, it is not reasonable to assume that the average voter understands marijuana is illegal on the federal level.
Proponents of the measure reiterated in an earlier brief that the ballot summary is not misleading because it reads, in part, “Applies to Florida law; does not change, or immunize violations of, federal law.”
It is also worth noting that Moody and the DeSantis administration have not held back from pushing back against federal law. Moody’s office sought legal action against the Biden administration on multiple occasions this year.
Smart and Safe Florida, the sponsor of the petition, claimed that Moody’s arguments in the recreational marijuana case reveal a “thinly veiled policy agenda.”
While on the presidential campaign trail, Gov. DeSantis indicated that he does not support legalizing marijuana on the federal level or in the state of Florida. DeSantis has touted the overwhelmingly conservative makeup of the state supreme court, which he had a huge hand in shaping. He appointed five of the seven justices, while the other two were appointed by then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.
In oral arguments for the marijuana ballot initiative, each side will have just 20 minutes to state their case before the Florida Supreme Court. The petition has racked up over 1,033,000 valid signatures from across the state as of this report.