Florida’s Supreme Court justices this week heard the state’s argument against a proposed ballot amendment for legalizing recreational cannabis, and the overall tone of the hearing left its largest supporters – including multistate operator Trulieve Cannabis Corp. – optimistic about the ultimate outcome.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed the challenge earlier this year, claiming that the ballot language was misleading by not making clear the plant’s federal illegality.
Several justices, including Gov. Ron DeSantis’ appointees Charles G. Canady and Carlos G. Muñiz, appeared skeptical of the state’s stance regarding the voter’s understanding of federal constraints. With more than a million signatures already, advocates insist the amendment’s language is clear and complies with previous court decisions on such matters.
“We believe that after today’s oral arguments, it is clear that the language was drafted to conform to the road map that the court itself has provided in prior cases,” a Smart & Safe Florida spokesperson told Green Market Report. “We hope that the court agrees that the language strictly adheres to the law and will allow the citizens of Florida to exercise their sovereign right to decide whether to amend their constitution.”
Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers addressed the hearing in a Thursday earnings call, expressing optimism about the court’s disposition and the company’s readiness for an adult-use market.
“The posture of that court definitely leaned positive,” Rivers opined.
She said there were no surprises during the hearing and noted that the justices seemed to recognize the weight of their decision.
“It was really encouraging to see that several of the justices saw that and appeared to understand that this wasn’t something that just affects a particular policy … but it has potential broad sweeping impact,” she said.
Rivers dismissed the notion of immediate competitive landscape changes if the amendment passes, citing the time required to build and scale operations. However, she sees Trulieve as having a distinct advantage thanks to its existing investments in the state.
“Florida, as I said, and I’ll say it again, will be the best cannabis market in the world,” Rivers said.
“We believe that the legislature, when they go to implement the amendment, will certainly continue to be focused on ensuring safety and traceability. I don’t know that I see a situation, where there’s a complete decoupling away from vertical, at least from a holistic approach.”
The court’s decision, which must be made by April, will determine if the amendment can be placed on 2024 election ballots. If passed, Florida will join the expanding ranks of states where adult-use cannabis is legal.
A Trulieve spokesperson told Green Market Report: “We believe that the campaign’s lawyer properly conveyed their case to the court and remain hopeful that the justices will ignore the political rhetoric, stick to the law and give Floridians the opportunity to vote on this important initiative.”