Marijuana legalization initiative will be on Nov. ballot, Florida Supreme Court rules

In November, voters in Florida will decide on a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment, Amendment 3, to legalize marijuana. The final step was for the amendment to receive approval from the Florida Supreme Court, which occurred on April 1. The campaign submitted enough signatures to meet the state’s requirement of 891,523.

Smart & Safe Florida is leading the campaign in support of Amendment 3, which would legalize marijuana for persons aged 21 and older and allow individuals to possess up to three ounces of marijuana.

Before the Florida Supreme Court, Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) challenged the initiative as unconstitutional and having misleading ballot language. Florida is the only state that requires a court to review the ballot language during or after the signature collection for initiatives.

Currently, 24 states have legalized marijuana. Thirteen did so through a ballot initiative. Florida is one of ten states that has an initiative process and that has not yet legalized marijuana. The other states are Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Oklahoma voters rejected an initiative to legalize marijuana on March 7, 2023. Initiatives were rejected by voters in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota in 2022.

A 60% vote is required for the amendment to be adopted. This requirement was added to the state constitution in 2006. Since then, nine constitutional amendments (including Amendment 2 of 2014, designed to legalize medical marijuana) received a majority of votes but failed to reach the 60% threshold and were therefore defeated. Medical marijuana was adopted by Florida voters in 2016 by a vote of 71% to 29%.

Matthew Schweich, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “The challenge in Florida is reaching the 60% mark. We need a well-funded campaign but just as importantly we need a strong grassroots operation that can mobilize support and turn out pro-legalization voters.”

Smart & Safe Florida has raised $40.5 million according to campaign finance reports covering information through Dec. 31, 2023.

The state supreme court also ruled that an initiative to create a right to abortion can appear on the statewide ballot, meaning voters will decide on six constitutional changes this fall—two citizen-initiated amendments and four referred by the state legislature. The legislatively referred amendments address partisanship in school board elections, public campaign financing, the right to hunt and fish, and the homestead property tax exemption.