Feb 6, 2023 - News

Florida Supreme Court to consider recreational marijuana amendment

Marijuana legalization by state
Data: DISA; Chart: Axios Visuals

A voter-backed amendment to allow recreational marijuana use in Florida is a step closer to being on our 2024 ballot.

Driving the news: Late last week, Smart and Safe Florida, the political committee behind the amendment, submitted 294,046 valid petition signatures to the state's Division of Elections.

  • That's more than the 222,898 signatures required to trigger a Florida Supreme Court review of the measure's proposed wording.

Why it matters: State lawmakers and marijuana groups have been pushing for Florida to legalize recreational use for years. Two ballot proposals were rejected in 2021 for failing to meet justices' amendment standards.

  • In order to gain approval, justices must agree that the measure only proposes a change to a single subject and doesn't mislead voters.

Between the lines: Trulieve, Florida's largest medical-marijuana provider, was originally backing a similar effort by a group called Regulate Florida, but withdrew funding because that group's ballot proposal allowed for adult use and home cultivation.

  • Trulieve feared that might qualify as two subjects and therefore be rejected by judges, Karen Seeb Goldstein, executive director of NORML of Florida and vice chair of Regulate Florida, told Axios.

What they're saying: "We were hoping that some other dispensaries would step up," Seeb said. "The reality is that without $10 [million] or $15 million, we will never get on the ballot."

Of note: Smart and Safe Florida's measure wouldn't allow for growing plants at home.

What's next: If the court approves the language, a total of 891,589 signatures are needed to place the amendment on the ballot.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Rep. Greg Steube (R-Bradenton) again introduced an act that would reschedule marijuana from a schedule I controlled substance to a schedule III controlled substance, allowing researchers to access federal funds to determine its medical value.

  • "Whether it's young children with seizure disorders, or veterans suffering from chronic pain, it's clear that there are medical benefits to marijuana, and I think it's time we remove the bureaucratic red tape that prevents us from thoroughly studying this substance," Steube tells us by email.
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