Florida high court rejects second attempt to get recreational cannabis initiative on ballot measure

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Another effort to include a recreational cannabis legalization initiative on Florida’s 2020 ballot has fallen flat. The Florida Supreme Court ruled against the measure, which the judges claimed to be “misleading.”

This was the second failed attempt to get adult-use cannabis on the state’s 2020 ballot, with another citizen initiative being rejected earlier in the year.

Cannabis in Florida remains illegal for adult-use or recreational purposes. Anyone caught in possession of 20 grams of cannabis (or less) will be charged with a misdemeanor. Such an offense is punishable by one year in prison and a fine of $1,000.

Currently, the state permits physician-recommended medical cannabis. The Florida Legislature passed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act in 2014. 

Almost 30,000 signatures were gathered for Florida’s recreational cannabis ballot measure  

The group of cannabis lobbyists responsible for putting Florida’s recreational cannabis ballot measure in front of a judge are members of Sensible Florida. Before the measure’s demise, the group managed to collect nearly 30,000 signatures of the required 891,589..

Back in April, the Florida Supreme Court also ruled against recreational cannabis legalization with a 5-2 vote. The previous ballot measure gathered more than half a million signatures. It was supported by Make It Legal — another pro-cannabis group. 

Since recreational cannabis advocates in Florida would need to begin the signature-collecting process from scratch in order to put a measure in front of voters in 2022, the legalization outlook remains bleak.

Furthermore, with Governor Ron DeSantis putting his signature on a bill that forbids individual donations of $3,000 and above, there’s little hope of a signature-gathering drive being funded by a rich donor.

Black farmers get priority to receive new medical cannabis licenses in Florida

In separate news, a black farmer has been informed that his medical cannabis business license application will be prioritized. According to senior aides to Gov. Ron DeSantis, state health officials are anticipated to launch the application review process imminently.

During an interview with reporters from The News Service of Florida, aides revealed that the Department of Health will start hashing out the rulemaking requirements for Black farmer applicants within “weeks to months.” 

Ultimately, this will set the foundation for a new round of cannabis business licenses that would result in the number of statewide medical cannabis operators being doubled.

“It would be awesome if we could get that application, get that license. We are definitely overdue as it relates to that,” said Howard Gunn the black man who operates Ocala nursery operator.

The application process for Florida’s medical cannabis legalization initiative is being kick-started following a Florida Supreme Court ruling in May that ratified a 2017 law enforcing a 2016 constitutional amendment for medical cannabis legalization.