Florida Governor Expects Recreational Cannabis Legalization on 2024 Ballot

Cannabis Legalization on 2024 Ballot

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has expressed his belief that a recreational cannabis legalization initiative will be on the state’s ballot in November 2024. The initiative, sponsored by Smart and Safe Florida, a group backed by one of the largest medical cannabis providers in the state, Trulieve, has already gathered enough signatures to move forward and is currently being reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court.

The Proposed Amendment

The initiative, officially known as the Florida Marijuana Legalization Initiative, would amend the state constitution to allow adults 21 years or older to possess, use, process, display, make, and purchase marijuana, marijuana products, and accessories for personal use. It would also allow adults to cultivate up to nine live marijuana plants per person, with a maximum of 18 plants per household.

The amendment would not affect or repeal the existing medical marijuana program in Florida, which was approved by 71% of voters in 2016. It would also not change the current laws that prohibit driving under the influence of marijuana, smoking marijuana in public places, or using marijuana in correctional facilities, schools, or workplaces. The amendment would not grant immunity from federal law, which still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance.

The amendment would also prohibit the state legislature from enacting laws that limit the potency of marijuana or marijuana products, which has been a contentious issue in other states that have legalized recreational cannabis. The amendment would leave the regulation and taxation of the marijuana industry to the Department of Health, which would have to adopt rules by July 1, 2025.

The Legal Challenges

The initiative has faced legal challenges from the state attorney general, Ashley Moody, who argues that the amendment is misleading and confusing to voters. She claims that the amendment does not clearly state that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and that it would create a monopoly for the existing medical marijuana providers, such as Trulieve, who have contributed millions of dollars to the campaign.

Cannabis Legalization on 2024 Ballot

The Florida Supreme Court, which has the final say on whether the amendment can appear on the ballot, heard oral arguments from both sides in November 2023. The court is expected to issue its ruling by April 1, 2024. The justices seemed skeptical of the state’s arguments, with Justice Charles Canady saying he was “baffled” by the claim that voters would not understand the difference between state and federal law.

The Public Opinion

If the amendment passes the legal hurdles, it will still need to win the approval of at least 60% of voters in the general election. According to recent polls, the public opinion on recreational cannabis legalization in Florida is divided, with some surveys showing majority support and others showing majority opposition.

The proponents of the amendment point to the potential benefits of legalization, such as generating tax revenue, creating jobs, reducing arrests, and respecting personal freedom. They also cite the example of other states that have successfully legalized recreational cannabis, such as Colorado, California, and Illinois.

The opponents of the amendment warn of the potential harms of legalization, such as increasing youth access, impairing public safety, harming public health, and violating federal law. They also question the motives of the backers of the amendment, who stand to gain financially from the expansion of the marijuana market.

The outcome of the vote may depend on the turnout and the composition of the electorate, as well as the campaigns and the media coverage of the issue. Florida, which is known for its close and contentious elections, may witness another historic ballot measure in 2024.

By Benjamin Parker

Benjamin Parker is a seasoned senior content writer specializing in the CBD niche at CBD Strains Only. With a wealth of experience and expertise in the field, Benjamin is dedicated to providing readers with comprehensive and insightful content on all things CBD-related. His in-depth knowledge and passion for the benefits of CBD shine through in his articles, offering readers a deeper understanding of the industry and its potential for promoting health and wellness.

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