PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -The Florida Supreme Court has blocked a second citizen initiative aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana from appearing on the 2022 ballot.
With two out of three initiatives out of the running, the odds of legalization any time soon are dimming.
The Supreme Court ruled that the ballot language was misleading because it said the amendment would limit recreational use.
The actual amendment language however, left open the door for state and local governments to allow for unlimited use.
Attorney General Ashley Moody petitioned the Supreme Court to block the initiative.
“We thank the Florida Supreme Court for their time and attention to this issue and respect their ruling. Floridians must fully understand what they are voting on when they go to the ballot box,” Moody said in an emailed statement.
Jeff Sharkey with the Medical Marijuana Business Association said the ruling is a disappointing blow to the cannabis community.
“We need to rethink our strategy and either get this done by 22 or 24,” said Sharkey.
In April, the Supreme Court struck down another proposed amendment to legalize marijuana because it failed to disclose the drug would still be illegal under federal law.
“This court has been really tough for the cannabis community,” said Jodi James with the Florida Cannabis Action Network.
James is also the Chairperson of Floridians for Freedom, which is backing the only remaining legalization effort.
It would guarantee a right to cannabis to Floridians over the age of 21.
Unlike the two amendments that have been blocked, the Floridians for Freedom initiative does disclose marijuana would remain federally illegal and its short ballot summary is almost identical to the amendment language, creating fewer opportunities for the Supreme Court to rule it misleads voters.
“If we can collect that million signatures before February 1st we believe we have enough ammunition at that point to make sure that we could get a ruling from the justices and everything we have seen from these last three decisions leads us to believe we were right all along,” said James.
Currently, Floridians for Freedom has just 2,610 of the required 891,589 valid signatures, but because the initiative dates back to 2015, proponents believe new state laws regulating the citizen initiative process may not apply to them.
Those new regulations include a $3,000 contribution cap on signature-gathering organizations.
If the initiative is truly exempt, it opens the door for the organization to secure a cash advantage to meet the February 1st deadline.
Copyright 2021 WJHG. All rights reserved.