Home Legal Florida Needs to Move Forward In Legalizing Marijuana

Florida Needs to Move Forward In Legalizing Marijuana

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Florida needs to legalize recreational marijuana. The political powers in the state could ruin efforts to adopt policies that are popular among the state’s voters

Most voters in Florida support legalizing recreational marijuana. A public opinion poll conducted by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab claims that seven in ten voters in the Sunshine State either strongly support or somewhat support the concept of a constitutional amendment enacting legalization in the format of states like Colorado. Just 29 percent strongly oppose or somewhat oppose legal marijuana.

Legalizing recreational marijuana can create a new industry and generate significant economic benefits.

PORL released these numbers in March 2023. A press statement released by the PORL features comments from its faculty director, Michael Binder. Binder is also a political science professor at the University of North Florida (UNF). “Efforts to put recreational marijuana in front of voters in 2024 are in the beginning stages, but support for it is high across the political spectrum,” said Binder, speaking within the context of when the data was collected, analyzed, and released. PORL found that 70 percent of Florida voters are in support of marijuana legalization right as organizers for a 2024 legalization ball measure were in the process of collecting signatures to qualify for the upcoming ballot. “If it makes it onto the ballot next year, and that’s a big ‘if,’ it has a good chance of reaching the 60% supermajority needed to pass,” Binder said. The legalization measure and its organizers were able to garner enough signatures in order to qualify it to appear on the 2024 ballot.

A wrinkle

But, there is a wrinkle. As Vaping Post has reported prior, elected leaders in Florida aren’t too keen on legalizing marijuana. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, both Republicans and closely-aligned political allies, are two elected leaders of note that pose a threat to efforts related to legalizing marijuana within Florida. Let’s start with the attorney general. On July 25, the Florida Supreme Court granted Moody a seven-day extension to further argue against the legalization ballot measure being placed on the 2024 ballot. She initially filed a challenge asking the state’s high court to block the ballot measure for procedural and constitutional issues. However, as Vaping Post reported in May when she initially filed, this author contends that she is working on a coordinated effort to suppress the will of the overwhelming majority of voters who support some format of legalization in Florida. Legalizing recreational marijuana can create a new industry and generate significant economic benefits. This is the same case for Florida. Legalization can lead to job creation across a variety of sectors. These include cultivation, processing, distribution, and retail. Unfortunately, Moody and her allies dismiss this in the name of a political ideology that claims to support freedom but doesn’t do even that well.

Current ballot initiative jurisprudence makes drafting an initiative an acrobatic exercise.

If Moody is unable to present a viable case to the high court, the marijuana legalization measure will advance. But, another wrinkle could be the high court itself. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida filed an advisory legal opinion telling the high court not to overstep as it has in the past. Florida Phoenix, a nonprofit news organization that is based in the state capital of Tallahassee, obtained a copy of the filing submitted by the ACLU and it highlights claims of judicial misconduct by the Florida Supreme Court. The group also argues that it is the role of the high court to review proposed amendments to the state constitution to ensure that the ballot summaries read by potential voters aren’t misleading and are clear. ACLU says that the court has “ginned up legal tests,” via the Florida Pheonix‘s report, that is “unsupported in the text of the constitution, including that proposed amendments shouldn’t affect more than one ‘function of government.'”

Violating the will of the people

“Current ballot initiative jurisprudence makes drafting an initiative an acrobatic exercise,” argues the ACLU in the filing. Attorneys Hélène Barthélemy, Benjamin James Stevenson, and Daniel B. Tilley represent the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida in this filing.

It is time for Florida to get its act together and work to legalize marijuana.

“The court can restore the function of the ballot initiative process,” the ACLU of Florida argued. “To do so, it must adhere to its constitutional commitment to the will of the people, provide clear guidance for ballot-initiative drafting by clarifying precedent, and rule on every nonfrivolous objection. Only thus can it fulfill its true role: letting the people of Florida decide how to amend their Constitution.” And, such a sentiment is held by the majority of voters who wish to continue to live in a state that claims to be a “free” place.

Beat the Republicans in power

Moody’s efforts clearly stand in the way of the will of the people. And, the actual will of the people in this case is in favor of the legalization of recreational marijuana. Vaping Post also profiled Gov. DeSantis and his positions on marijuana legalization. The consensus, based on a review of the evidence we reviewed, is that DeSantis is not in favor of legal marijuana efforts either. DeSantis is a candidate for the Republican nomination for the President of the United States against other anti-legalization conservative politicians, such as the now-indicted former President Donald Trump. Hopefully, the high court heeds the wishes of the people, as already argued, and the marijuana measure reaches the ballot in the 2024 General Election. Leading up to that, I implore people in Florida to learn about the benefits and setbacks of legalization—even though there are more benefits of legal marijuana than setbacks. That’s necessary. Unfortunately, the fight for clear and sober information on the issue will be hard to come by in the coming months. Expect very large business groups aligned with DeSantis and Moody, like the Florida Chamber of Commerce, to gin up false narratives and alarmist points of view on the economic, political, social, and criminal justice benefits of marijuana liberalization to any degree. Legalizing marijuana would allow for regulation and quality control of the product, ensuring that consumers have access to a safer, controlled substance. This could potentially reduce the risks associated with using unregulated and potentially contaminated products.

As I said, it is time for Florida to get its act together and work to legalize marijuana.

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Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly
11 months ago

Legalize federally now. What’s legal to possess and consume in nearly half of The United States should not make you a criminal in states still being governed by woefully ignorant prohibitionist politicians.

Cannabis consumers in all states deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

Plain and simple!

Legalize Nationwide Federally Now!

It’s time for us, the majority of The People to take back control of our national cannabis policy. By voting OUT of office any and all politicians who very publicly and vocally admit to having an anti-cannabis, prohibitionist agenda! Time to vote’em all OUT of office. Period. Plain and simple.

Politicians who continue to demonize Cannabis, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Cannabis possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through cannabis home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose cannabis, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

The People have spoken! Get on-board with Cannabis Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.