Recreational marijuana struck down
The Florida Supreme Court last week ruled that a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would legalize recreational use of marijuana contained misleading language in its 75-word ballot summary. The initiative, which had already collected more than 556,000 signatures of the 891,589 needed to make the 2022 ballot, will now have to start from scratch as a result.
The proposed Adult Use of Marijuana amendment , if approved by at least 60% of registered voters, would have allowed those 21 and older to possess and use up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. The effort was backed by the medical marijuana industry through the named sponsor, Make It Legal Florida.
In the 5-2 decision, the court found issue with the ballot summary’s use of the word “permit,” arguing the amendment didn’t properly notice voters that although marijuana use would be allowed under state law if the amendment passed, it would be illegal by federal law. “A constitutional amendment cannot unequivocally ‘permit’ or authorize conduct that is criminalized under federal law… A ballot summary suggesting otherwise is affirmatively misleading,” wrote Chief Justice Charles Canady for the majority.
When the effort to legalize medical marijuana was underway for the 2016 ballot, the backers of that initiative avoided this pitfall, Canady wrote. The sponsors in their ballot summary noted that the initiative did not “immunize” Floridians from “violations of federal law.”
LMA Newsletter of 4-26-21