Florida legalized medical cannabis in 2016. While recreational cannabis remains illegal, the possession of 20 grams of cannabis or less is considered a misdemeanor offense and is punishable by up to one year in jail plus a $1000 fine.
There are, however, efforts pushing for the legalization of adult-use marijuana in the state. Specifically, a ballot initiative has been proposed for the 2020 election.
The 10-page constitutional amendment is entitled “Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol to Establish Age, Licensing, and Other Restrictions.” This proposal would legalize the use of cannabis by adults older than 21 years old. It would also allow users to grow their own cannabis plant.
However, it looks like the proposed ballot measure is already facing major opposition.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, for one, is challenging the proposal.
According to Moody, the proposed amendment is misleading to voters as it is “too long.” She said that the document “cannot be adequately summarized.”
The Republican attorney general argued that there is no way that 10 pages of the law can be clearly summarized in about 75 words and would adequately convey to the Florida voters what exactly they’d be voting on.
A couple of advocacy groups are trying to get cannabis legalization before the voters. One is Regulate Florida, which has already collected more than 89,000 signatures from registered voters. This number already meets the threshold that is required for a mandatory review by the Florida Supreme Court.
The state Supreme Court is responsible for determining whether a ballot initiative meets legal requirements. This includes verifying that the initiative is fairly summarized.
If the language is approved by the Supreme Court, the organization will need additional signatures. A total of 766,200 signatures statewide need to be submitted by Feb. 1, 2020, in order to get the initiative on the ballot.
For cannabis to be legalized for recreational use, at least 60 percent of voters have to give their approval.
According to Michael Minardi, chairman of Regulate Florida, he is not surprised that the measure is being challenged considering that Gov. Ron DeSantis opposes marijuana legalization.
Minardi, however, vows to defend the initiative before the Florida Supreme Court.
He contended that the length of something does not automatically mean that there’s something not evident about the amendment from the ballot summary, or that they are hiding the ball.
The second marijuana legalization effort is led by Make It Legal Florida. This organization is better funded and is supposed by some of the leading medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.
Their proposal is narrower than the one being pushed by Regulate Florida. It also requires designated treatment centers to handle pot sales.