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Florida Cannabis Advocates File Recreational Weed Legalization Initiative

A.J. Herrington

By A.J. Herrington

August 9, 2022

Healthcare Wellness Innovation Concept CBD. Concept of using cannabis in the sport, medical marijuana, hemp oil. Marijuana growing for use as alternative herbal medicine

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cannabis advocates including the country music duo The Bellamy Brothers and the state’s largest medical marijuana company on Monday filed a proposed ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the 2024 general election.

Under the Adult Personal Use of Marijuana proposal, adults 21 and older would be permitted “to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption by smoking, ingestion, or otherwise,”

from local media.

The proposal allows adults to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis, including up to five grams of cannabis concentrates. The initiative is spearheaded by the group Smart & Safe Florida and is supported by Trulieve, a vertically integrated cannabis company with operations in 11 states and Florida’s biggest supplier of medical marijuana. Kim Rivers, the CEO of Trulieve, said that the effort is part of the continuing evolution of cannabis policy in Florida, where the medicinal use of marijuana was legalized with 71 percent of the vote in 2016.

“It’s all about improving access,” Rivers told The News Service of Florida in an interview. “We came into this with a mission to provide access to high-quality products that are safe and have an appropriate value proposition to give folks control over their — in the original days — medical journey. I don’t think that changes here. I mean, in effect we are at our core about expanding the opportunity for access to safe legal product, which is what this would allow us to continue to do.”

Smart & Safe Florida, with musician David Bellamy at the helm, filed documents with the Florida Division of Elections on Monday. To qualify the adult-use cannabis initiative for the 2024 ballot, the group will need to collect nearly 900,000 signatures from registered voters. 

The Bellamy Brothers, who are native Floridians and own a ranch in Pasco County, announced a partnership with Trulieve in 2020 to bring their Old Hippie Stash line of cannabis products to the company’s dispensaries in the state. On Monday, they posted a

announcing their support of the proposal.

“As we travel the country, we see the benefits of adult use and as Florida residents we love the ‘freedom state’ moniker and believe that Florida needs to join the millions of Americans whose adults are free to use cannabis without fear of being incarcerated,” The Bellamy Brothers wrote in an email statement.

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Previous Legalization Efforts Denied by Florida Supreme Court

Previous attempts to legalize recreational marijuana at the ballot box have been stifled by opponents, with the state Supreme Court denying access to the ballot for two separate legalization initiatives in 2021 on legal grounds. 

“Every initiative has provided some level of learning,” Rivers said. “With this initiative, the authors have taken a hard look at the Supreme Court rulings surrounding the previous efforts and taken that into consideration. We believe it’s a very appropriate and narrowly focused amendment that does defer appropriately to the Legislature.”

Sally Kent Peebles, a partner at the cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP’s Florida office, says that the “proposed initiative would end the failed policy of cannabis prohibition in Florida and establish a framework for regulating cannabis for adult use.” 

“It appears to be strategically drafted to survive the types of legal challenges that proved to be fatal to previous adult-use initiative efforts in the state Supreme Court,” she wrote in an email. “The details will largely be determined by the Legislature, which is similar to how other adult-use legalization measures have been written.” 

Rivers acknowledged the care taken to draft the proposal, noting that the measure leaves most of the details of regulating the recreational marijuana industry up to the state legislature.

“Any amendment in the state of Florida has to be very careful in terms of single subjects with this court and so I do know, speaking with the lawyers, that there was a very high focus on keeping this really focused around authorizing adult use and then allowing the Legislature to develop policy,” she said.

The group Sensible Florida, which led the campaign for one of the initiatives nixed by the Supreme Court in 2021, has filed a separate ballot measure to legalize marijuana for the 2024 ballot. Triulieve contributed $250,000 to that effort, although the group has only collected about 23,000 signatures so far. Trulieve has also dedicated $5 million to the initiative advanced this week by Safe and Smart Florida.

“With multiple legalization attempts in the running in Florida, it will be interesting to watch these efforts develop and see where the voters stand on them,” said Peebles. “One way or another, Florida needs to stop punishing adults for personal marijuana use and start reaping the many benefits of legalization and regulation, from advancing social justice and protecting public safety to creating jobs and generating tax revenue.”

A.J. Herrington

About The Author

A.J. Herrington

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.

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