For the second time in two months, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at allowing people to use recreational marijuana.
Justices, in a 5-2 decision, said a proposal by the political committee Sensible Florida included ballot wording that would mislead voters. By the same margin, the court in April rejected a recreational-pot proposal by the committee Make It Legal Florida.
During arguments in February 2020, justices appeared skeptical of the Sensible Florida proposal, which drew opposition from Attorney General Ashley Moody, the state House and groups such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
The proposed amendment was framed as regulating marijuana similar to alcohol. But Thursday’s ruling focused on wording in the proposed ballot summary, which voters would see when they go to the polls.
That summary said, in part, the measure would regulate marijuana “for limited use and growing” by people age 21 or older. But the Supreme Court majority said the summary was misleading because the full amendment would not limit the personal use of marijuana.
“The ballot summary here is not accurate. It falsely tells voters that the proposed amendment limits the use of recreational marijuana. Because the proposed amendment itself ‘does no such thing,’ it should not be placed on the ballot,” said the opinion, partially quoting from a court precedent about ballot initiatives.
The court majority was made up of Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices Ricky Polston, Carlos Muniz, John Couriel and Jamie Grosshans — the same majority that scuttled the Make It Legal Florida proposal in April.
Justice Alan Lawson, in a dissent joined by Justice Jorge Labarga, acknowledged that Sensible Florida proposal was a “close case.” But he said the court should have read the ballot summary in conjunction with a ballot title that said, “Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol to Establish Age, Licensing, and Other Restrictions.”
“And the (full) amendment itself details the ways that marijuana use would be regulated similar to Florida’s current regulations affecting alcohol use,” Lawson wrote. “Therefore, reading the title and summary together, ‘limited use’ could also be understood as a reference to the regulations disclosed in the aptly descriptive title.”
Backers of proposed constitutional amendments need to submit 891,589 valid petition signatures and get Supreme Court approval of the ballot wording before they can take issues to voters in the November 2022 election. Sensible Florida had 29,172 valid signatures as of Thursday — though another 66,513 signatures had expired, according to the Florida Division of State website.
The Supreme Court rejected the Make It Legal Florida proposal for different reasons than the Sensible Florida initiative.
Justices said the ballot summary of the Make It Legal Florida measure would mislead “voters into believing that the recreational use of marijuana in Florida will be free of any repercussions, criminal or otherwise.” The conclusion of it being misleading stemmed from marijuana remaining illegal under federal law.
–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida
Florida once again is so behind the times of reality.
Just look at all the states in the USA that have approved this and are making money for their state, not Florida they want to stay in the hole of poverty and not progress. It is a national joke around the country how backwards this state is.
Time to get politicians and Superior Court Judges that are for the State of Florida because right now it is behind the times.
good- just what we need is more stoned pot heads driving on the roads.
people cant drive now.
Concerned Citizen says
All this hoopla over a plant. That has known capabilities of helping those with severe illnesses. And the funny part? Half those judges probably smoke themselves.
This may surprise some but while I have never smoked. And don’t even care for the smell of it. I have seen first hand what it has done for several friends with severe illnesses and anxiety disorder. And it’s so much better than what big pharma is trying to push down our throats. And that right there is the catch my friends.
Medical marijuana and Marijuana in general stands to put a big dent in big pharma ops. So they are going to fight it every step of the way. And have more resources to be successful. Why let society have a clean and proven solution for pain management. When you stand to make millions off of shoving narcotics down their throats?
And then there is the Law Enforcement aspect of it. Criminalizing pot makes money for Local,State and Federal agencies. Once someone is entered into the system it’s a relentless cycle of returning for BS probation charges and failure to pay unaffordable fines. I will tell you that I spent a total of 15 years in Law Enforcement. And I never charged anyone for under an ounce. Especially if they were cooperative. The usual method would be to have them dump it out. And spread it it. Because that was more punishment than a ticket. And advise them to not get caught again. Now you have Cowboy ToughGuy Wannabe Staly thinking he’s Elliot Ness when they make a traffic stop and find a baggie. And they will plaster you on the news and ruin your life to the point of having to move out of this county. Sad when there are much bigger issues on the table.
Let’s move into modern times folks. Marijuana has been around for ever. And isn’t going anywhere. Get off that moral/big pharma high horse. Legalize it.Regulate it and tax it. And move on to more important issues.
Stephen J Smith says
I think that regardless of how you feel about the legalization of marijuana. The Florida Supreme Court showed that it believes the citizens of Florida can’t think. To turn down the proposed amendment, saying it would leave people believing that if marijuana was regulated like liquor there would be no legal repercussions. That is saying the average Floridian is unaware of the rules, and that think the laws surrounding the sale, possession, and use of alcohol have no repercussions. I think we citizens are smarter than the court gives us credit for.
Not withstanding the lack of voter signatures needed to move forward. The court bowing to political pressure, had to dig deep to quash this proposed amendment. Another case of the current government wanting to stop citizen sponsored legislation that the people want and they refuse to address? Could be.
Its rampant anyways so besides the Legal Aspect most Folks could care less whether it is or isnt passed. IMO
the dude says
Yep… it’s easier to get now than ever.
It’s actually cheaper here off the street than it is in pot shops in states where it’s legal.
All you old boomers running Florida, who believe the movie “Reefer Madness” is a documentary and that the mary jane leads to things like boogie dancing and intermingling of the races… you’re actually doing the rest of us a favor while depriving the state of revenue.
Trailer Bob says
You have a strange and incorrect understanding of us “old boomers.” I doubt any of us believe that the movie “reefer Madness” is a documentary.
It was my generation that brought the benefits of pot to the forefront.
And your comment on “old boomers” indicates that you believe that there are also “young boomers”?
First it will POT, then it will be cocaine, then heroin, LSD and then meth. What we will have is a crowd of stones dangerous druggies walking and driving around like zombies. What a sorry world we must live in where dangerous drugs are allowed as recreational. i.e. Oregon became the first state in the United States to decriminalize possession of small amounts of all drugs
Trailer Bob says
It is disheartening to hear people talk about the issues with pot, while alcohol is ruining so many lives.
I first tried a puff of weed when I was 12. Now I am 65 and…well…I am doing just fine.
I find it ridiculous to compare drug addicts who also smoke pot, to those that only smoke pot.
It is a weed that grows in the dirt. I do not know of one sane person whose life was ruined by smoking a little weed.
It WILL be made legal at some point, but in the meantime many people’s lives will be affected negatively.
But we have no problem with bars, where you can go and get wasted, then drive home?
And yes…I AM a conservative person…but reasonable.