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Florida Supreme Court allows statewide ballot measure on recreational marijuana

The measure requires 60% approval to pass in November, when Democrats hope to make electoral gains in a state where they have struggled for years.
The Supreme Court of Florida in Tallahassee.
The Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee.Francis Chung / Politica via AP file

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Monday that an initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana can appear on the state's ballot in November.

The proposed amendment would allow people 21 years or older “to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption by smoking, ingestion, or otherwise,” and it would permit medical marijuana treatment centers and other state licensed entities “to acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell, and distribute such products and accessories.”

The measure, which many Republicans oppose, including the state attorney general's office, will require 60% approval from voters to pass.

In an advisory opinion, Justice Jamie R. Grosshans said the court would allow the proposed amendment, adding that it meets the requirements for constitutionality and clarity.

"Our role is narrow—we assess only whether the amendment conforms to the constitutionally mandated single-subject requirement, whether the ballot summary meets the statutory standard for clarity, and whether the amendment is facially invalid under the federal constitution," wrote Grosshans, an appointee of Gov. Ron DeSantis. "In light of those limited considerations, we approve the proposed amendment for placement on the ballot."

Cannabis is legal in some form, for either recreational or medical use, in more than 40 states.

Smart & Safe Florida, a sponsor of the ballot initiative, welcomed the ruling.

“We are pleased that the Court agreed that the ballot language was clear and correctly ruled in favor of allowing voters the chance to vote on this important initiative," it said in a statement.

State Attorney General Ashley Moody's office and a spokesperson for DeSantis did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday evening.

The attorney general's office had opposed the proposed ballot measure and requested an advisory opinion on the matter, contending that the proposal was misleading.

The court also ruled Monday to uphold a 15-week ban on abortion, meaning a six-week abortion ban that DeSantis signed into law last year will take effect. But it also ruled to allow a proposed amendment that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution to appear on the ballot.

President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign condemned the state's abortion ban in a memo first shared with NBC News, suggesting that abortion rights would be "front and center" in the state in November and that the issue put the state, won twice by former President Donald Trump, within Biden’s reach.