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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The recreational marijuana amendment “does not belong” on the ballot for voters due to its “misleading” ballot summary, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said Monday in a filing with the Florida Supreme Court.
“The Adult Personal Use of Marijuana ballot summary is misleading, and the initiative does not belong on the ballot,” Moody said in the brief.
Voters would be asked to make “consequential changes” to the state’s constitution without being “honest with them about what those changes would be,” Moody argued.
Moody said that, despite its wording, the amendment wouldn’t “allow” marijuana use, but would just eliminate state-law penalties for it, according to the filing.
“If the amendment were to pass, marijuana use would remain illegal in Florida because of the federal Controlled Substances Act, which makes marijuana a Schedule I substance generally prohibited nationwide,” Moody wrote in the brief.
Moody said a state constitution can’t “allow” something that federal law prohibits.
“By virtue of federal law, not a single instance of marijuana use would be lawful in Florida even if the amendment passed,” Moody said.
Moody also said the ballot summary misleads voters on who would be allowed to enter the marijuana trade.
“Floridians would likely care about this issue because greater competition in the marijuana marketplace would decrease retail prices and increase the quality of professionalism of marijuana producers and retailers,” the brief states. “But currently only [Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers] are licensed to engage in the marijuana trade in Florida, and the proposed amendment would not change that.”
Because the amendment “affirmatively bans the possession of more than 3 ounces of marijuana,” it would block legislators from ever allowing possession of more than three ounces — something Moody says may make some voters reconsider.
Smart and Safe Florida, the sponsor of the ballot initiative, provided the following statement:
We believe the language as written clearly complies with the requirements of the constitution. We look forward to bringing this matter to the Florida Supreme Court and are confident that the court will conclude that there is no lawful basis to set aside the ballot initiative. This important issue should be entrusted to the citizens — over a million of whom already signed the Smart & Safe Florida petition saying they would support it — to decide for themselves through democratic choice. SMART AND SAFE FLORIDA
The University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab poll from March found 70% of 1,452 people surveyed would “strongly” or “somewhat” support a measure allowing people over the age of 21 to buy a small amount of marijuana for personal use. 29% of respondents said they would either “strongly” or “somewhat” oppose the amendment.
Florida’s medical marijuana program was created through a ballot measure in 2018. The most recent attempt at getting recreational marijuana on the ballot was thwarted in 2021, when a Florida judge ruled the language of the amendment was too vague.