The campaign to legalise recreational cannabis in Florida has hit the buffers after the state’s Supreme Court ruled by 5 to 2 that a constitutional ballot initiative by Make it Legal Florida was “misleading”.

The proposal would have left it up to the state’s voters to decide whether to allow Floridians over 21 to possess and use up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana.

Backed by the state’s medicinal cannabis industry, Make It Legal Florida had raised US$8.2 million and gathered more than 556,000 signatures out of the nearly 900,000 needed for the measure to make the 2022 ballot.

The ruling came after Attorney General Ashley Moody asked the Court to advise whether the potential constitutional initiative would be suitable for a future ballot.

However, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Charles Canady, a majority of justices took issue with Make it Legal Florida’s use of the word “permit” in the initiative’s ballot summary.

The justices argued that the amendment did not effectively advise Floridians that although marijuana use would be allowed under state law if it were to pass, it would still be illegal federally.

Canady wrote: “A constitutional amendment cannot unequivocally ‘permit’ or authorize conduct that is criminalized under federal law. A ballot summary suggesting otherwise is affirmatively misleading.”

Had it made the ballot, the initiative would have needed a 60% majority of the vote to be added to the state constitution. In order to make a future ballot, Make It Legal Florida will have to redraft the amendment and start again.

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

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