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Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a DeSantis ally, wants to stop pot legalization from going before voters in 2024

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (L) and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R). Moody filed a motion June 27 to block a ballot measure on recreational pot.Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (L) and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R). Moody filed a motion June 27 to block a ballot measure on recreational pot.

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  • Florida’s AG asked the Supreme Court to strike a ballot initiative on legalizing pot in Florida.
  • She said the language on the ballot was “misleading.”
  • If she’s unsuccessful, legalized marijuana and DeSantis could both be on the ballot in 2024.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a close ally of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, asked the state Supreme Court  to nix a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize pot in the state. 

The petition, dated Monday, comes less than a week after DeSantis, a 2024 candidate for president, said he did not support decriminalizing cannabis nationally, citing concerns about young people accessing the drug. 

But it also came the same day that DeSantis signed a bill into law to allow people to access medical marijuana through telehealth. Alongside the law is another provision that would help more Black farmers receive licenses to participate in the cannabis industry. 

Should the legalization effort move forward and should DeSantis secure the GOP nomination for president, he and pot could both be on the ballot in 2024.

The broader recreational legalization in Florida effort gathered enough signatures to put the question of pot legalization before voters, but it has to get a sign off from the state Supreme Court first, which decides whether the ballot question is clear enough for voters to understand and addresses just one subject. 

Moody, in arguing against the sign off, said the ballot’s language was “misleading to voters in several key respects” and was not “honest” with voters about the forthcoming changes.

She alleged that it didn’t make clear that marijuana would remain illegal federally, though the ballot’s language states the authorization of the measure “does not change, or immunize violations of, federal law.” 

“The rampant misinformation in the press and being peddled by the sponsor of this initiative about its effects makes clarity all the more pivotal,” Moody wrote in her 49-page petition.

She also accused the authors of the ballot measure of suggesting that competition for cannabis would go up with authorization, a provision that would drive down prices. The power to license more distributors, however, only lies with the legislature and not with the ballot, she wrote

In another argument, she said the Department of Health wouldn’t have enough time to regulate the drug even though the ballot measure makes it sound as though it would happen right away. 

The ballot, if passed, would authorize the drug for recreational purposes for people 21 and older to “possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories” and is being backed by Truelieve, a medical marijuana operator. 

The Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Drug Free America Foundation were outside entities opposing the ballot measure in briefs they filed. 

Most voters support making cannabis legal, polling shows. In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly authorized medical marijuana usage through a similar ballot measure, and they tend to be similarly successful in other states. 

Despite DeSantis’ definitive statement against cannabis legalization last week, his record on the issue has been mixed. 

Soon after becoming governor in 2019, DeSantis successfully convinced the legislature to lift a state ban on the smokable form of the drug — a move meant to help the ballot initiative go into effect, and one that stunned the political class.

As a US Congressman, DeSantis voted in favor of spending bill amendments to protect state cannabis programs from federal interference. But the governor, who is also a Navy vet, voted against legislation that would allow doctors to recommend cannabis to patients. 

Asked about cannabis support in 2022, DeSantis expressed some hesitancy on the issue and derided the “putrid” smell of the drug.

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