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Florida Officials Oppose Ballot Proposal To Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis

The Florida attorney general is making her stance on legalizing marijuana crystal clear.

Florida Officials Oppose Ballot Proposal To Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis
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State officials in Florida who are attempting to block a constitutional amendment ballot initiative that would legalize adult-use cannabis have filed briefs that explain their legal arguments with the state Supreme Court. Lawyers for the Republican-controlled state Senate and Attorney General Ashley Moody outlined their position against the initiative supported by Make It Legal Florida in the legal briefs filed on Monday.

Lawyers for the Senate are basing their argument on a new state law signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this month. The law contains several provisions designed to make it more difficult to amend Florida’s constitution through a ballot initiative, including requiring more signatures before a mandated Supreme Court review is triggered.

The Senate lawyers argue that another provision of the law that requires the Supreme Court to consider whether initiatives are “facially invalid under the United States Constitution” is cause to block the legalization amendment, writing that marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law supersedes state law under the Supremacy Clause.

“The passage of (the new law) clarifies the scope of the court’s review and opens the door for the court to consider the inability to comport with federal law,” Senate attorneys wrote in the brief. “Because the initiative is facially invalid under the U.S. Constitution, the court should remove it from the ballot.”

State Attorney General Also Opposes Initiative

Moody’s office also filed a brief that opposes the initiative from Make It Legal Florida, which announced in January that it was delaying the legalization effort until the 2022 election. But the attorney general’s argument isn’t based on the controversial law, instead relying on an existing statute that bans ballot initiatives from misleading voters. The brief notes that the Make It Legal Florida initiative’s wording says that the amendment “permits” the possession, sale, transportation, and use of marijuana.

“If approved, however, the initiative would not ‘permit’ such activities: Federal law prohibits the possession, sale, transportation, or use of marijuana, and the proposed amendment would not undo or override that law,” lawyers in Moody’s office wrote.

The attorney general’s office also noted that the Supreme Court need not rely on the new law that tightens the regulations on amendment initiatives, arguing that the misleading language in the legalization initiative is cause enough to block it from the ballot.

“Because the misleading ballot language provides an adequate and independent ground for resolving this case, the (Supreme) Court need not – and, based on traditional principles of judicial restraint, should not – address the facial validity of the proposed amendment under the United States Constitution,” the brief reads.

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In a January filing that anticipated Moody’s position, lawyers for Make It Legal Florida argued against the claim that the initiative is misleading.

“Under this (Supreme) Court’s precedent, ballot summaries are not required to recite the current state of federal law, or an amendment’s effect on federal law,” the attorneys wrote in the brief. “Nor must a ballot summary remind voters that they are voting to amend Florida’s Constitution rather than federal statutes. … Florida voters do not require a lesson in these elementary civics principles, especially having voted on marijuana amendments in two out of the last three election cycles.”

The Florida Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments about the Make It Legal Florida initiative on May 6.

A.J. Herrington
Written By

A.J. Herrington is a San Diego-based writer and photographer covering cannabis and the environment.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Dale Shipley

    April 22, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    Looks like Florida has politicians/lawyers that think they know better than the people. Vote em out, or expose them. We all know the 2 most corrupt jobs in this country are lawyers and politicians. Might be hard to vote em out, but fairly easy to find corruption.

    • Avatar

      Helen schierbaum

      May 23, 2020 at 2:29 pm

      I’m 60 yrs old. And believe marijuana is better than taken alot of pain meds. And I’m more relax and makes my body and mind feel better and younger.
      I vote yes. Make it legal with limits is a good thing.

  2. Avatar

    John Thomas

    April 23, 2020 at 4:13 am

    Florida has always been one of the most corrupt states in the country. Drug cartel money has been flowing through the system for decades. So, they wickedly mis-frame the issue.

    The issue is not marijuana. Mankind has been consuming it for, at least, 4.000 years with no problems. The issue is the FRAUDULENTLY ENACTED, marijuana prohibition. It was perpetrated by soon-to-be-out-of-work alcohol prohibition bureaucrat, Harry Anslinger, in 1937. He desperately wanted a new empire and no lie was too big to tell to get it .

    In all it’s 83 miserable years, the fraudulent, marijuana prohibition has never accomplished one positive thing. It has ONLY caused vast amounts of crime, violence, corruption, death and the severe diminishing of everyone’s freedom.

    It’s not marijuana that’s the crime. It’s the bogus prohibition and those who profit from “enforcing” it!

  3. Avatar

    Tom

    April 23, 2020 at 5:42 am

    What is wrong with this States ,sorry approach to legalizing , they have already denied the people there voted for rights to medical marijuana, by there ridiculous political process. Let’s not forget the tax revenue it would generate,considering how most municipalities are starved for funds, crimes related to the black market would decrease, politicians should look at getting out of the way of what the people voted for and look at the program that AZ has worked well. You should be voted out of office with all the unnecessary political redirect infused by your hard headed meddling.

  4. Avatar

    justin sanes

    April 23, 2020 at 10:05 am

    We voted on this and still being denied fuck them we will still smoke marijuana legal or not we the people have the right fuck them politics

  5. Avatar

    Snowdog

    April 23, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    Sincerely,…

    Fuck Floriduh

  6. Avatar

    Gary Weber

    April 23, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    IGNORANT UNEDUCATED PEOPLE WITH STOCK IN BIG PHARMA
    REMEMBER THESE PEOPLE AT ELECTION TIME
    THE TAX MONEY WOULD HELP OUR STATE ITS JUST A MATTER OF TIME

  7. Avatar

    Christopher

    April 25, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    Doesn’t matter how long Florida thinks they can keep it illegal, Trumps gonna eventually come in with a fat document and smack it across their face stating it’s fully federally legal and they can go suck his dick

  8. Avatar

    ExposingTheTruth

    April 28, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    Excerpt from above: “Moody’s office also filed a brief that opposes the initiative from Make It Legal Florida”

    Why would the FL Attorney General be so opposed to legalization, it couldn’t be personal, could it?

    Excerpt from (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashley_Moody) about FL’s Attorney General, “Moody is married to Justin Duralia, a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent.”

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