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Florida Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Proposed Amendment to Florida’s Marijuana Law

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On Wednesday, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments about a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow people to use recreational marijuana.

Proponents of the amendment, including Make It Legal Florida, are seeking to have the amendment placed on the 2022 ballot. To do so, they need the Florida Supreme Court to give the green light to the title and summary of the proposed amendment. In other words, they need the high court to approve the language/wording that is utilized in the title and/or summary of the proposed amendment. It is with this language where the debate arises.

According to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, the proposed amendment would mislead voters. More particularly, opponents to the amendment contend that some of the language of the amendment is misleading because it appears to permit conduct that is illegal under federal law. As reported in the Miami Herald:

State Solicitor General Amit Agarwal, representing Moody, argued Wednesday that the Supreme Court should reject the proposal because it would be misleading to voters. Agarwal focused, in part, on wording in the ballot summary that says the amendment “permits adults 21 years or older to possess, use, purchase, display, and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and marijuana accessories for personal use for any reason.”

“Voters should be told the truth,” Agarwal said. “They should be given the tools that they need to make a fully informed decision on this ballot initiative. Voters right now are told, expressly and unqualifiedly, that the proposed amendment would permit something that it quite simply would not permit.”

On the other hand, proponents of the amendment assert that the amendment simply “piggybacks” on a constitutional amendment that passed in 2016 and that legalized the use of medical marijuana. This amendment, they claim, would simply reduce some of the restrictions limiting use for medical reasons. As reported by the Miami Herald, citing George Levesque, an attorney for Make It Legal Florida:

“We believe the text of our proposed amendment, and the summary that describes it, accurately, clearly and unambiguously informs the voter of what we are trying to do,” he told The News Service of Florida after the arguments. “In this case, to permit limited amounts of marijuana to be given to adults and for adults to be able to use that marijuana for any purpose that they need it for.”

The Florida Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether the language of the proposed amendment is misleading, or whether it is clear enough to defeat such a challenge. In doing so, the court will likely consider the interplay between the Florida Constitution and the United States Constitution and/or federal law. More particularly, opponents to the amendment claim that the language is misleading because it permits voters to engage in conduct that is criminalized under federal law. Proponents, on the other hand, assert that Floridians have the right to amend the Florida Constitution and that there is no obligation to inform Florida voters about what it is happening with regard to federal law.

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Jason Gonzalez, an attorney representing the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Floridians Against Recreational Marijuana, Save Our Society from Drugs and National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance, raised an interesting point. As reported by Law.com:

Gonzalez argued that if he repeated the first few lines of the ballot summary to a client he’d be making a serious false statement, as the sale of any marijuana is [a] federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

“If I said that with no condition, I would be committing professional malpractice. I would be violating the oath of attorney and the rules of professional conduct because it’s patently false, and it would not just merely be a mild misstatement,” Gonzalez said.

Time will tell how the court ultimately rules on this interesting and important case.

This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. You should not take, or refrain from taking, any legal action based upon the information contained in this article without first seeking professional counsel.

Mr. Hakim is a writer and commentator and an attorney.  His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Algemeiner, The Western Journal, American Thinker and other online publications. 

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About The Thoughtful Conservative

Mr. Hakim is a writer, commentator and a practicing attorney. His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Epoch Times, American Thinker and other online publications. . He has also appeared on various nationally syndicated radio shows including the Dan Abrams Show and the Alan Nathan Show.

2 comments

  1. I strongly disagree with Christopher Smith. It is a medical fact that Marijuana is – IS – linked to a number of psychoses including paranoia, schizophrenia other big words I refuse to look up! THC destroys the ability to think critically and narrows a persons view down to a limited assessment of any give situation; based primarily on emotionalism. The context of consequences are often missing from a person’s reasoning – and therefore actions – because Marijuana focuses the user on living in the moment. Functionality in a society of intelligent human beings is greatly reduced. THESE are FACTS the Marijuana Lobby does not want the general public to know. Yet the mental wards are FULL of Marijuana users and if the studies that Do exist were made known, the American people might not be as casual about it.

    Get THIS; most police departments do NOT report the involvement of Marijuana usage linked to major crimes like MURDER and yet the percentages are much greater than we are aware. So when someone makes the claim Marijuana is not as harmful as some claim well… I just assume they are users themselves or just plain stupid.

    And then there is the FACT – FACT – that it is a gateway Drug!!

    People like to compare Marijuana to Alcohol because Alcohol is legal. That’s the comparison. THEY ARE BOTH BAD but even casual use of Marijuana has far longer lasting affects (YEARS – even decades!!) than alcohol!

    That being said I am a libertarian who’s simple platform is that; IT AIN’T NONE OF THE GOVERNMENTS BUSINESS! ALL laws beyond that which gives power to the right of every individual to protect his own life and property are THEFT and SLAVERY!!

    Therefore the question of legality should not be an issue in the first place – as it is a personal choice until someone else becomes a victim! THEN the violator can and perhaps should be made DEAD by the victim defending his life and property! Furthermore ALL -ALL- ALL – socialist programs that prop up the users life after the CERTAIN fact that from long term use of Marijuana he can no long function should NEVER EXIST – EVER!

    YOU NEED TO FACE THE CONSIQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS ON YOUR OWN TWO FEET!

    As an Americanist and a libertarian if you want freedom for yourself then you need to be completely responsible for yourself – stop soaking me for money I earned thru expenditure of time and life for your bad mistakes!

  2. CHRISTOPHER P SMITH

    Sorry, but this is nothing more than parsing words. Every state should legalize (ans tax and regulate) the use of recreational marijuana. It’s harmful effects are *much* less than those of alcohol, and it’s ablity to make people happy, without depression or anxiety is was documented.

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