The Florida Supreme Court recently decided in a 5-2 ruling that it will not be preventing an adult-use cannabis initiative from appearing on this year’s ballot. Later this year, voters will voice their opinion on “Florida Amendment 3, Marijuana Legalization Initiative,” where a “yes” supports legalizing adult-use cannabis and permitting possession of up to three ounces, and a “no” opposes adult-use legalization and all it would pertain.

This decision is the result of Attorney General Ashley Moody’s challenge of the initiative’s ballot language in summer 2023, arguing that the measure is misleading and doesn’t inform voters about federal prohibition. Moody also challenged a ballot initiative from 2022, to which the Supreme Court ultimately decided it was invalid.

The current initiative that will now be put in front of voters in November is backed by the advocacy group Smart & Safe Florida, which according to Politico, collected more than 1 million signatures to get the initiative onto the ballot. 

According to a written opinion from Justice Jamie Grosshans, the language doesn’t violate the single-subject rule, and is not too confusing for voters. “Selling and possessing marijuana appear, for better or worse, directly connected, and we cannot say that an amendment addressing both components violates the single-subject requirement,” the opinion stated. “We do not believe the summary would confuse a voter into thinking that the legislature is required to authorize additional licenses. It clearly states that the amendment legalizes adult personal possession and use of marijuana as a matter of Florida law.” Grosshans also addressed Moody’s claim that the amendment would require legislative decision in order to create adult-use dispensary licenses.

Smart & Safe Florida published a post on social media about the recent court ruling. “The court’s decision echoes our commitment to transparent ballot language and the right for voters to decide on vital issues. Here’s to progress and paving the path towards safer cannabis consumption for adults! #Yeson3”

A majority of the funds behind Smart & Safe Florida’s initiative came from the vertically integrated multistate operator, Trulieve, which granted more than $39 million to the effort. Trulieve is one of the largest cannabis companies in Florida, owning 131 of 618 medical cannabis dispensaries currently licensed in the state.

“We are thankful that the Court has correctly ruled the ballot initiative and summary language meets the standards for single subject and clarity. We look forward to supporting this campaign as it heads to the ballot this fall,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers. “Trulieve was the primary financial supporter of the initiative during the signature gathering effort and subsequent court challenge and is a proud supporter, alongside a strong coalition of other companies, of the next important phase to educate Floridians on the amendment and secure a yes vote on Amendment 3 this November.”

In order for the initiative to pass this November, it will need 60% of voter approval, which would allow the state’s currently licensed medical cannabis companies to sell to any adult over 21.

Gov. Ron DeSantis took office in 2019, and shortly thereafter asked the legislature to repeal a ban on cannabis flower. Advocates and patients praised his support, and since then he has acted on that support to create strict rules to prevent medical cannabis advertisements in order to protect children.

However, DeSantis has made it clear that he does not support adult-use cannabis, calling it a “real problem” and referring to the plant as having a “stench.” He campaigned for president in 2023, and made claims that cannabis could be laced with fentanyl, and saying that he would not legalize adult-use cannabis if he were elected president. “Yeah, I would not legalize,” DeSantis said. “I think what’s happened is this stuff is very potent now. I think it’s a real, real problem and I think it’s a lot different than stuff that people were using 30 or 40 years ago. And I think when kids get on that, I think it causes a lot of problems. And then, of course, you know, they can throw fentanyl in any of this stuff now.”

Medical cannabis was legalized in Florida in 2016 with a 71.3% vote, and as of 2023, Florida had 871,000 registered medical cannabis patients, which is the highest number of patients in the country. According to Politico, the medical cannabis legalization effort was funded in majority by “Pot Daddy” John Morgan, who spent $7 million to push the initiative forward.

As of April 2, the Florida Supreme Court permitted a six-week abortion ban to take effect (which was signed by DeSantis in 2023). However, the court also approved a constitutional amendment to appear on the ballot that will ask voters to choose to decide on “Florida Amendment 4, Right to Abortion Initiative.” A “yes” vote would establish constitutional rights to abortion before fetal viability, while a “no” vote would oppose that constitutional right. “We’re thrilled the Court has let the voters decide the fate of abortion access in Florida,” said Laura Goodhue, Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates Executive Director. “This comes at the same time they have allowed a six-week ban to go into effect, making this initiative more important than ever.”

 [[{“value”:”The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that the challenges from Attorney General Ashley Moody are invalid, and that Amendment 3 will be put on the ballot.
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