In the latest move to try to block marijuana legalization measures set for the 2024 general election ballot, Florida continues to flout its claim as a “free” state.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is asking the state Supreme Court to block a ballot measure to legalize marijuana on the ballot in the 2024 election. Smart & Safe Florida said they collected enough signatures to qualify for next year’s ballot, but Moody’s challenged it in the high court with an opinion challenging the potential constitutionality.
Smart & Safe Florida proposed a constitutional amendment that far exceeded the 222,881 petition signatures required for a vote, which also sparked a Supreme Court review of the measure. Secretary of State Cordbird confirmed that the committee has met the necessary requirements. But Moody’s blamed the committee. This isn’t the first time Moody and her far-right coalition with controversial Gov. Ron DeSantis have taken issue with the potential for recreational marijuana sales in one of the most populous states in the coalition. In this case, the Florida Supreme Court is tasked with examining whether any proposed amendment to the state’s constitution is limited to a single subject and whether the language of the vote is clear and concise.
In a filing with the Supreme Court, Moody wrote that the proposed ballot measure to amend the Constitution does not meet the requirements set forth in state election statutes.
The measure, titled “Adult Personal Cannabis Use,” allows people 21 and older to “possess, purchase, or use cannabis products and cannabis accessories for non-medical personal consumption by smoking, ingesting, or otherwise. In the 2016 election, Voters passed a constitutional amendment that now broadly allows the sale of medical marijuana.
In addition to obtaining Supreme Court approval, the committee needs a total of at least 891,523 verified petition signatures before the measure can be brought to a November 2024 vote. The Florida Department of Elections lists 786,747 of the most recent verified signatures.
Safe & Smart Florida issued a statement in response to Moody’s filing in a report by local political news tabloid Florida Politics.
“We thank General Moody for the referral to the Supreme Court, but respectfully disagree with her assertion that it did not meet the requirements,” the campaign said in an email to Florida Politics author Jacob Ogles. “We very much look forward to her analysis, but even more importantly, to written and oral arguments and a positive decision from that court in the Florida Supreme Court. Incidentally, it is important to note that the Attorney General’s opinion is not binding and this matter The matter will be decided after the parties express their views in court.”
Moody’s is currently trying to block marijuana legalization on next year’s ballot, contrary to the views of the vast majority of Florida voters. In March 2023, the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab conducted a statewide poll of political leanings in the state ahead of the 2024 presidential primary season (which technically runs from 2023 until the new year).
For readers outside the United States, the country’s presidential election is a multibillion-dollar event. Governor DeSantis is most likely to run against former President Donald Trump in the race for the Republican nomination. DeSantis, while not as loud and verbose as Trump, is just as extreme, and takes a hard line on discriminating against LGBTQ people, censoring his critics, doing what he can to limit tobacco harm reduction efforts and liberalizing marijuana and famous. I state this information for context, given that the data below shows a major disconnect between voters and the likes of DeSantis and Moody.
All respondents were asked whether they would support or oppose a proposed state constitutional amendment that would allow Florida adults 21 or older to purchase and possess small amounts of medication, according to a methodology paper released by the research lab. For personal use. About 70 percent of respondents said they strongly or somewhat supported the legalization of marijuana. Only about 29 percent said they opposed an actual ballot measure to legalize marijuana.
“Efforts to put recreational marijuana in front of voters in 2024 are in their infancy, but support across the political spectrum is strong,” said Dr. Michael Binder, PORL Faculty Director and Professor of Political Science, in a March 2023 speech The press release said release.
“If it goes to a vote next year, which is a big ‘if’, it has a good chance of reaching the 60 percent supermajority required for passage,” Michael Binder said.
This state of high support among voters includes 76% in spring 2022 and 64% in November 2019, according to other PORL polls. The Pew Research Center reported in November 2022 that approximately 88 percent of U.S. adults said marijuana should be legal for both medical and recreational use by adults. Fifty-nine percent said recreational use should be legal, 30 percent said it was for medical use only, and one in 10 said marijuana should not be legal. The widespread support for marijuana legalization is not overstated either. Florida’s elected leaders are sidestepping those facts.
Howard and David Bellamy are currently the leaders of the Smart & Safe Florida Council. In a press statement a few weeks ago, Howard and David Bellamy said, “New initiatives in our home state of Florida finally implement safe and commonsense marijuana regulation.” “Approximately three-quarters of Florida voters support Legalize marijuana,” they all said. “We are eager to spearhead this work and hope you will join us in helping our campaign to keep freedom ringing in the great state of Florida.”
Legalizing recreational marijuana could create a new industry with significant economic benefits. It’s the same situation in Florida. Legalization can create jobs in various sectors. These include cultivation, processing, distribution and retailing. In addition, regulated marijuana sales can generate tax revenues for the government, which can be distributed to any public service and program. Proponents argue that individuals should have the right to choose their bodies and personal recreational activities as long as they do not harm others.
The legalization of recreational marijuana can be seen as a step towards respecting freedom and reducing government interference in the private affairs of individuals. It is important to note that the impact of cannabis legalization may vary depending on the specific weed regulations currently in place, including age restrictions, licensing requirements, and public use restrictions. It is also important to carefully consider and address potential risks, such as impaired driving and the likelihood of increased marijuana use.
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