The Florida Supreme Court will review oral arguments on an Adult Personal Use of Marijuana citizen initiative that could lead to a constitutional amendment for voter consideration, with legalization in effect as soon as May 2025 if 60% or more of voters approve.
The amendment, titled “Adult Personal Use of Marijuana,” would allow non-medical use of the narcotic and prohibit any law subjecting use to criminal liability or civil sanctions. It would also clear all licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers in the state to start making and selling recreational cannabis products.
The hearing is set for Nov. 8, with each side getting 20 minutes to make the case as to whether or not the initiative should be put on next year’s General Election ballot.
“With upcoming oral arguments, we want to restate the fact that the language was drafted very conservatively and with the guidance of this very court. We anticipate that the court will stick to its deferential standard of review and will agree that the language strictly adheres to the law and the Florida constitution and will give the voters the opportunity to vote on this subject,” said Steve Vancore, a spokesperson for Smart & Safe Florida, the political committee sponsoring the initiative.
Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers added, “We look forward to the Smart & Safe campaign presenting its case to the Florida Supreme Court. We hope the court will ignore the political rhetoric, stick to the law and give Floridians the opportunity to vote on this important initiative.”
“We have medical in our Constitution, we have medical marijuana, we enforce that, you know, we abide by it, but to take action now to make it even more available, I would not do that,” DeSantis said in Iowa this summer, adding that legalization in Colorado has only expanded the “black market.”
Florida voters in 2016 passed a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana only for medical uses. That laid the groundwork for a still-growing industry in the state, along with a host of regulations around the product. But it’s still not legal for residents and visitors of Florida to use marijuana without a prescription.
He had previously indicated olfactory objections to the pungent plant.
“What I don’t like about it is if you go to some of these places that have done it, the stench when you’re out there, I mean, it smells so putrid,” he told reporters in 2022. “I could not believe the pungent odor that you would see in some of these places. I don’t want to see that here. I want people to be able to breathe freely.”
Attorney General Moody holds to the same opinion she did in 2019, the last time a citizens’ initiative sought to put the adult use question to voters, saying the drafted amendment was overbroad.
“I believe that the proposed amendment fails to meet the requirements of Section 101.161(1), Fla. Stat., and will present additional arguments through briefing at the appropriate time,” she wrote in May.
Moody cited a law requiring constitutional amendments to touch on just a single subject, and expressed doubt whether this one complies with all technical requirements of state law.
Smart & Safe Florida already has more than a million verified signatures, meeting the threshold needed for ballot inclusion should the Supreme Court back its position. The committee has raised more than $39 million, almost entirely from Trulieve, the leading dispensary chain in the state in terms of number of storefronts.
Polling this Spring Mason-Dixon suggests the amendment would have 50% support on the ballot, which would ensure it falls short of ratification. However, other measures indicate support well above the 60% threshold for passage — notably, a March poll conducted by the University of North Florida found 70% of Floridians either “strongly” or “somewhat” legalizing recreational use for people over 21, with 29% either “strongly” or “somewhat” oppose.
Given that the vote would happen on a presidential General Election ballot, it’s all but assured that turnout will be juiced compared to that of most off-year election cycles, and anti-cannabis Republicans may suffer a backlash as a result.
Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics contributed to this report.