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Pot proposal tops signature requirement

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow recreational use of marijuana have surpassed a required number of petition signatures to place the initiative on the 2024 ballot, according to the state Division of Elections.

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The agency’s website Thursday showed that the Smart & Safe Florida political committee, which is sponsoring the measure, had submitted more than 967,000 valid signatures for the initiative. Committees have to submit 891,523 valid signatures for placement on the ballot.

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While the proposal has topped the signature threshold, it still must clear another major hurdle -- Florida Supreme Court approval.

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The court reviews ballot initiatives to ensure they address single subjects and are not confusing to voters. Justices in 2021 twice rejected recreational-marijuana proposals, but backers of the current measure said they relied on guidance from the court’s rulings when crafting the “Adult Personal Use of Marijuana” initiative.

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Attorney General Ashley Moody, who last month sent the proposal to the court for review, signaled she will argue the measure doesn’t meet legal requirements to go before voters. The court asked the proposal’s opponents to submit briefs by June 12 and gave supporters until July 5 to respond. Final briefs are due July 12. Oral arguments have not been scheduled.

Trulieve, the state’s largest medical-marijuana operator, has contributed more than $38 million to the recreational-marijuana effort.

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“Our investment demonstrates our firm belief that Floridians are ready to experience the freedom to use cannabis for personal consumption; a freedom which is currently enjoyed by more than half of America’s adults,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said in a statement Thursday. “With over 965,000 validated signatures from nearly every part of our state, it is clear these voters share that belief. We are thrilled the campaign has made this milestone and look forward to seeing this initiative on the ballot next November.” To pass, the proposed constitutional amendment must receive approval from 60 percent of voters.

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