The struggle over whether Florida voters should get to decide for themselves whether to decriminalize marijuana goes on. As we discussed previously in this blog, the campaign to add an initiative onto this year’s ballot proposing a state constitutional amendment allowing recreational marijuana use in the state has failed.
Now the group behind the campaign, Make It Legal Florida, is trying again for the 2022 election. But the state Senate is fighting the group’s right to go ahead, using a newly-passed law that makes passing ballot initiatives more difficult in Florida. The matter will soon end up in the state Supreme Court.
Challenge to new marijuana legalization initiative
Voters previously approved an amendment that legalized medical marijuana statewide. But lawmakers, Attorney General Ashley Moody and business owners say that under the new law, which went into effect earlier this month, the proposed 2022 initiative is insufficiently vague. A court filing by the Senate contends that the language in the initiative does not make it clear that if passed, it would not change federal law, under which marijuana use for any reason remains illegal. The filing asks the Supreme Court to consider whether the marijuana initiative is invalid.
A spokesman for the marijuana legalization group responded that voters understand the distinction, having already voted twice on the medical marijuana initiative in recent years. The state Supreme Court has invited interested parties to file supplemental filings arguing for or against allowing the initiative to continue.
State vs. federal marijuana law
Several states have legalized marijuana. Though federal law still bans marijuana use, possession, manufacture and sale, residents in states where marijuana is legal do not seem to have cause to fear arrest by the FBI. However, marijuana growers and dispensaries remain in a kind of legal limbo.
Meanwhile, here in Southwest Florida, marijuana remains illegal for recreational use. If you are arrested on marijuana-related charges, you could need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight to keep you out of jail.