Florida recreational marijuana initiative hopes to land on 2024 ballot

Bellamy Brothers-backed proposed would need nearly 900,000 signatures
Recreational Marijuana
Posted at 10:34 AM, Aug 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-09 15:29:35-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Country music duo the Bellamy Brothers and Trulieve, Florida's largest medical-marijuana company, are backing a proposed amendment to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Florida.

According to the Smart & Safe Florida political committee, the proposal would allow people 21 and up to "possess, purchase or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption."

The proposed amendment was filed Monday at the state Division of Elections. It would need nearly 900,000 petition signatures to make it onto the 2024 ballot.

Trulieve contributed $5 million to the effort to get the measure on the 2024 ballot. Other multi-state medical marijuana operators also are expected to support the campaign.

"More than 140 million Americans already have the freedom to partake in responsible cannabis use and it is past time for Florida to provide its law-abiding adults the same privilege," Florida natives Howard and David Bellamy said in a video announcing the push to make the ballot.

If voters sign off on the new proposal, lawmakers would have final say on how the industry is structured.

"Nothing in this amendment prohibits the Legislature from enacting laws that are consistent with this amendment," the proposal says.

Recent findings by Public Policy Polling suggested a majority of Floridians support recreational legalization. A survey of more than 500 Florida voters in March found 59% approved of legalization, 31% were opposed and 10% unsure.

Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2016 to legalize medical marijuana. Nearly 800,000 patients have been authorized for treatment.

Grassroots efforts to put the legalization issue on the 2022 ballot have hit several snags. The Florida Supreme Court struck down two of the biggest proposals for misleading language.

One proposal, backed by the political committee Sensible Florida, was framed as regulating marijuana similar to alcohol, the News Service of Florida reported. But in a 5-2 decision in June 2021, the court ruled that the ballot summary would be misleading to voters. Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Florida Chamber of Commerce were among the opponents of the initiative.

According to the News Service of Florida, the court in April 2021 also rejected a separate recreational-marijuana initiative, backed by the Make It Legal committee, saying for different reasons that the proposal would mislead voters.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has previously expressed he doesn't support expanding marijuana use.

"I could not believe the pungent odor that you would see in some of these places," DeSantis said, citing the smell of marijuana. "I don't want to see that here. I want people to be able to breathe freely."