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Florida Marijuana Activists File New Legalization Initiative For 2022 Ballot Following Supreme Court Defeats

Sep 20, 2021
The proposed constitutional amendment, which was approved for initial signature gathering last week, would allow adults 21 and older to use and possess cannabis. They could also grow up to nin ...

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Florida marijuana activists are making another push to place adult-use legalization before voters in 2022, filing a new petition with the state after previous versions of the reform were rejected by the state Supreme Court earlier this year.

The proposed constitutional amendment, which was approved for initial signature gathering last week, would allow adults 21 and older to use and possess cannabis. They could also grow up to nine plants for personal use. The initiative would not provide for retail sales, however.

Regulate Florida is leading the campaign and stressed that time is limited to get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Activists must first collect 222,898 valid signatures to prompt a judicial and fiscal impact review, then they need a total of 891,589 signatures to make the ballot.

That first hurdle has created headaches for advocates this year. After the state attorney general’s office requested a judicial review of the group’s prior legalization initiative—and filed briefs opposing the petitions—the state Supreme Court rejected it, as well as a separate reform proposal from an industry-backed campaign, because justices deemed the language misleading.

The new initiative seeks to avoid the court’s specific contentions with the prior measures.

A majority of justices found that the ballot summaries were “affirmatively misleading” because they said adult-use cannabis would be made lawful in the state without explicitly acknowledging that it would remain illegal under federal law. Regulate Florida has now gone out of its way to specify that nothing in its new initiative “purports to give immunity under federal law.”

The group also eliminated language on “limited use” of marijuana that led the court to reject its original proposal earlier this year.

Regulate Florida is asking voters to print, sign and mail out the new petition.

“Time is short, so we need you to send in your completed and signed petition today!” the group said. “We can do this if we work together.”

If the measure does end up on the ballot, at least 60 percent of Florida voters would have to approve it for it to be enacted. Recent polling shows that a majority of Florida voters (59 percent) support legalizing cannabis for adult use, so that’s a slim margin that shows that advocates will have their work cut out for them if the measure qualifies—particularly in a midterm cycle in which demographics that are more likely to support marijuana reform are less likely to turn out than in presidential election years.

A separate campaign, Make It Legal Florida, also had their legalization proposal rejected by court this year. Advocates intended to get reform on the ballot in 2020, but they announced early that year that they were shifting focus to 2022 due to restrictive signature gathering requirements.

It’s not yet clear if that group, which had substantial funding from cannabis businesses and collected considerably more signatures on its petition prior to the court’s intervention than Regulate Florida had on its previous attempt, plans to file a new measure for next year’s ballot.

Florida is just one of multiple states where advocates are hoping to put cannabis reform before voters next year.

South Dakota marijuana activists are now ramping up for a signature gathering effort to put legalization on the 2022 ballot as the state Supreme Court continues to consider a case on the fate of the legal cannabis measure that voters approved last year.

New Hampshire lawmakers are pursuing a new strategy to legalize marijuana in the state that involves putting a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot for voters to decide on in 2022.

Lawmakers in Maryland are also crafting legislation to place a marijuana legalization referendum on the 2022 ballot after the House speaker called for the move.

Nebraska marijuana activists announced recently that they have turned in a pair of complementary initiatives to legalize medical cannabis that they hope to place on the state’s 2022 ballot.

Ohio activists recently cleared a final hurdle to begin collecting signatures for a 2022 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in the state.

Missouri voters may see a multiple marijuana initiatives on the state’s ballot next year, with a new group filing an adult-use legalization proposal that could compete with separate reform measures that are already in the works.

Arkansas advocates are collecting signatures to place adult-use marijuana legalization on the ballot.

Activists in Idaho are working to advance separate measures to legalize possession of recreational marijuana and to create a system of legal medical cannabis sales. State officials recently cleared activists to begin collecting signatures for a revised initiative to legalize possession of marijuana that they hope to place before voters on the 2022 ballot. Meanwhile, a separate campaign to legalize medical cannabis in the state is also underway, with advocates actively collecting signatures to qualify that measure for next year’s ballot.

After a House-passed bill to legalize marijuana in North Dakota was rejected by the Senate in March, some senators hatched a plan to advance the issue by referring it to voters on the 2022 ballot. While their resolution advanced through a key committee, the full Senate blocked it. However, activists with the group North Dakota Cannabis Caucus are collecting signatures to qualify a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis for the 2022 ballot.

Oklahoma advocates are pushing two separate initiatives to legalize marijuana for adult use and overhaul the state’s existing medical cannabis program.

Wyoming’s attorney general recently issued ballot summaries for proposed initiatives to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize cannabis possession, freeing up activists to collect signatures to qualify for the 2022 ballot.

And it’s not just marijuana measures that reform activists are seeking to qualify for state ballots next year. A California campaign was recently cleared to begin collecting signatures for an initiative to legalize psilocybin. And advocates in Washington State have announced plans to put a proposal to decriminalize all drug before voters.

Read the text of the new Florida marijuana legalization initiative below:

Click to access florida-marijuana-legalization.pdf

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