Florida’s Top Cop Battles Cannabis Legalization, Disregards Popular Support

It seems like Florida’s Attorney General, Ashley Moody, is more interested in doing the DEA’s job than listening to the voices of her constituents. As the spouse of a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent, she’s been thrust into the spotlight for her open opposition to the ongoing push for cannabis legalization in the state.

The group spearheading the charge, Smart & Safe Florida, is running a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults. So far, they’ve garnered a whopping 786,747 signatures, closing in on the requisite 885,000 (eight percent of the votes cast in the last presidential election) to get the issue on the ballot.

Once they hit that threshold and secure a thumbs-up from the Florida Supreme Court, the proposal will go before the voters. From there, it’ll take 60% of the vote to transform the Sunshine State’s weed laws. But AG Moody is dead set on keeping that question off the ballot altogether.

Moody has taken her fight to the Florida Supreme Court, arguing that the proposed ballot summary for the amendment is misleading. Her gripe? She’s claiming the proposed amendment, titled “Adult Personal Use of Marijuana,” doesn’t comply with the single-subject requirement of the Florida Constitution and doesn’t meet certain “technical requirements.”

In response to Moody’s challenge, Smart & Safe Florida expressed its respectful disagreement. Steve Vancore, a spokesperson for Trulieve, the medical marijuana company financially backing Smart & Safe Florida, expressed optimism for a positive ruling from the state supreme court.

Critics aren’t holding back in their condemnation of Moody’s attempt to derail the initiative. Nikki Fried, Florida Democratic Party chair, accused Moody of “not standing with the people” and “being on the wrong side of history,” labeling this as “another attack on our democracy.”

Fred Grimm, a Fort Lauderdale journalist, hypothesized that there’s a clear political motive behind Moody’s fight against legal marijuana: the 2024 elections. Grimm pointed out the GOP’s concern that marijuana might just do what Biden can’t – stir up the Democratic Party’s less active voters. In Grimm’s words, “The GOP’s faux populists know ballot questions like these would have coattails long enough to blow up an election.”

It’s a fight that reflects the tension between public sentiment and political maneuvering. So, as the battle for cannabis legalization in Florida heats up, the question remains: who will Moody choose to stand with – the people or her party’s political playbook?