Florida high court questions arguments to keep adult-use marijuana off ballot

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Florida’s Supreme Court appeared during oral arguments to dismiss key arguments from state attorneys aiming to strike down a 2024 ballot initiative to legalize adult-use marijuana sales and possession.

During the Wednesday hearing, Justice Charles Canady said the language of the proposal was clear and questioned arguments posed by lawyers from the state’s attorney general, Politico reported.

“Where’s the hidden ball?” Canady asked, according to Politico.

“I’m baffled by the argument.”

The high court has until April 1 to rule.

If the justices forgo a decision, the measure will appear on the November 2024 ballot, Politico reported.

In an August court filing contesting the ballot initiative, Florida Solicitor General Henry Whitaker argued that the “carefully curated ballot summary misleads in ways that, though sometimes subtle, are likely to influence voters – and to do so in a way that entrenches the sponsor’s monopolistic stranglehold on the marijuana market to the detriment of Floridians.”

Whitaker was referencing Trulieve Cannabis, the state’s largest medical marijuana company, which has contributed nearly all of the $40 million raised by the Smart & Safe Florida legalization campaign, records show.

The adult-use campaign submitted 1 million-plus signatures from registered voters, more than enough to qualify the proposed constitutional amendment for next year’s ballot.

Under Florida law, ballot initiatives need 60% of voter support for passage, a steep barrier for marijuana reform considering the state’s high percentage of older voters who tend to oppose legalization, according to polling.

If the measure is allowed on the 2024 ballot and voters approve it, Florida would join 24 other states with adult use, including Ohio, where such a measure was overwhelmingly approved Tuesday.