Thousands of recreational marijuana supporters in Florida were disappointed with their efforts to legalize its use in their state. The group Make It Legal Florida initiated the effort to have the matter put on the 2022 ballot for voters to make their voices heard. With more than 550,000 signatures, the group had a strong start to acquiring the nearly 990,000 signatures needed to secure the ballot endeavor, but it was not successful.
The proposed addition
The Florida Supreme Court struck down the proposed measure, indicating the nebulousness of its wording. The full text of the proposed amendment stated that an individual could be allowed to “possess, use, display, purchase or transport” the drug without incurring penalties for marijuana crimes “under Florida law.”
The Florida Supreme Court’s primary contention is that the verbiage could misconstrue Florida law with that of federal law. Even if the amendment were passed, the activities named therein would still be illegal under federal law and could subject the user to criminal prosecution.
Even though the amendment’s wording clearly stated that the changes would be valid “under Florida law“, five of the seven justices decided it was not sufficient for purposes of clarity. Thus, the dissenting justices imposed misinterpretation of the amendment without considering that Florida residents never asked for relief under federal law, and the matter may not be left up to voters. Additionally, other governing bodies such as the Florida House and Senate chimed in support to dissuade the proposal’s acceptance.
Too little too late
The decision to oppose the amendment was not unanimous. Justice Alan Lawson attacked the reasoning behind the amendment’s rejection, stating that precedent regarding ballot summary analysis was not followed. While the justice brought up important points, it was not enough to save the measure for the 2022 elections. Given the strong support of those in favor, this issue likely won’t be going away in the foreseeable future.