The Florida Supreme Court Thursday struck down a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have put marijuana legalization up for a vote in 2022.
The Court ruled that the language proposed for the ballot did not match the language in the amendment itself.
“The ballot summary plainly tells voters that the proposed amendment ‘limit(s)’ the personal use — i.e., consumption — of recreational marijuana by age-eligible persons. But the proposed amendment itself does not do so,” the Court said in its decision.
The amendment would have created the Florida Cannabis Act, which in its summary title, purports to “Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol to Establish Age, Licensing, and Other Restrictions.”
The ballot summary says marijuana will be regulated “for limited use and growing by persons twenty-one years of age or older.”
Sensible Florida, the group behind the proposed amendment, argued that the term “limited” means “not unlimited.”
The Court was not moved by that argument.
“But even if we were to read the summary in this absurd manner, it would not change the fact that the proposed amendment itself does not limit personal use to some less-than-unlimited amount,” the ruling said.
The proposed amendment still needed 862,000 signatures in order to appear on the 2022 ballot, and skeptics were unsure whether Sensible Florida would be able to meet that threshold anyway.
Florida requires a statewide referendum on any proposed amendment to the constitution.
Former Republican governor turned Democrat congressman Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL-13), who is running to retake the Governor’s Mansion from incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), blasted the Court’s ruling on Twitter.
“The Florida Supreme Court that [Gov. Ron DeSantis] packed with partisan judges just denied another ballot initiative to let Floridians vote on legalizing marijuana. This is wrong. Legalization should be up to the people of Florida,” he said.
The Florida Supreme Court that @GovRonDeSantis packed with partisan judges just denied another ballot initiative to let Floridians vote on legalizing marijuana.
This is wrong. Legalization should be up to the people of Florida. https://t.co/wca7kUycbL
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) June 17, 2021
Crist did not address the legal merits of the decision.
DeSantis’ other potential opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, has deep ties to the state’s cannabis industry.
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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.