ACLU Fighting Supreme Court To Allow Recreational Cannabis Question On 2024 Ballot

The Florida Supreme Court is not doing what it is supposed to, according to The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU).

In a brief filed on Monday, the ACLU stood in support of a citizens’ initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. It also claimed that the court is responsible for reviewing proposed amendments to make sure the ballot summaries aren’t misleading.

“While the Florida Supreme Court, legislature, and state officials can ensure ballot integrity, they cannot interfere with the will of the people,” the union says at the beginning of the document.

ACLU further argues that the Florida Supreme Court has sometimes prevented citizen initiatives on “ground not based in the text of the Constitution,” inviting “inappropriate judicial review on the merits of initiatives. Finally, it has decided cases based on certain objections while ignoring others. This all comes at great cost to citizens.”

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The ACLU states that requirements like making clear that cannabis states illegal under federal law and similar are, in practice, “so malleable that they allow the court to do the constitutionally impermissible: rule on the merits of a proposed amendment.”

The union went on to make it clear that the Florida Supreme Court is under obligation to identify specific issues with each ballot initiative, thus enabling ballot proponents “to cure their initiatives for the next election cycle.”

Under the current legal system, drafting an initiative is “an acrobatic exercise,” the ACLU says.

Hopefully, the court has the power to “restore the function of the ballot-initiative process,” it continued. “To do so, it must adhere to its constitutional commitment to the will of the people, provide clear guidance for ballot-initiative drafting by clarifying precedent, and rule on every nonfrivolous objection. Only thus can it fulfill its true role: letting the people of Florida decide how to amend their Constitution.”

Recently, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a brief that states four reasons why the initiative should be stricken down. The ACLU argues that if Moody’s objections are “nonfrivolous,” they should be adjudicated by the court. “If they are frivolous, the Court should say so. This returns power to the people after the Court’s review.”

The news comes on the heels of Smart & Safe Florida filing a new brief to the state Supreme Court, contesting Moody’s arguments against the initiative, after which Moody quickly asked for an extension to file the briefs.

The non-profit organization, backed by a $39 million investment from the medical marijuana provider Trulieve, has collected more than 1 million petition signatures to place the proposed amendment on the 2024 ballot.

More Recent Cannabis Milestones In Florida

Meanwhile, two Black farmers were issued medical marijuana licenses in the state after years of delay, MJBizDaily first reported.

The news comes about a month after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill helping Black farmers in Florida get valuable medical marijuana licenses and allowing medical marijuana patients to use telehealth to renew their physician approvals.

Additionally, the Florida legislature and DeSantis’ office estimate that legalizing cannabis could generate between $195.6 million and $431.3 million in annual sales tax revenue.

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