54ºF

Florida Senate says court should not take up pot proposal

photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Describing the legal issue as “moot,” the Florida Senate says the state Supreme Court should not review the wording of a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow recreational marijuana use.

Senate attorneys filed a motion late Monday, hours after backers of the proposed amendment said they would not be able to put the measure on the November ballot and would try to take it to voters in 2022.

The political committee Make It Legal Florida had submitted enough petition signatures to trigger a Supreme Court review of the proposed wording and said Monday it would continue with the process to get court approval. But the Senate motion said the issue should be dismissed, arguing that “since the initiative is not going to meet the criteria for placement on the 2020 ballot, such a review is moot.”

The political committee would have needed to submit 766,220 valid petition signatures to the state Division of Elections to reach the 2020 ballot, but that number will be revised for 2022. A smaller number of signatures needed to trigger the Supreme Court review for 2020 also will change. The numbers are revised after each presidential election and are based on a formula involving the total votes cast in the presidential elections.

“The criteria for placement on the 2022 ballot is not yet known because there will be an intervening presidential election in 2020,” the Senate motion said. “Therefore, this matter is not yet ripe for review (by the Supreme Court) until the signature criteria can be determined and it is verified that the sponsor has met the threshold for 2022 ballot review.”

Make It Legal Florida shelved the proposal for 2020 because it would not be able to meet the 766,200-signature requirement by a Feb. 1 deadline.

“The narrow timeframe to submit and verify those signatures has prompted our committee to shift focus to now gain ballot access in 2022,” committee Chairman Nick Hansen said in a prepared statement Monday. “We’re looking forward to Supreme Court review of our efforts and working in collaboration with state leaders to ensure the supermajority of Floridians’ voices are heard."