NATIONAL NEWS

Florida voters will decide whether to protect abortion rights and legalize pot in November

Apr 1, 2024, 1:10 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Supreme Court issued rulings Monday allowing the state’s voters to decide whether to protect abortion rights and legalize recreational use of marijuana, rejecting the state attorney general’s arguments that the measures should be kept off the November ballot.

ABORTION RIGHTS

The proposed amendment would protect the right to an abortion after the state in back-to-back years passed tougher restrictions currently being challenged in court. Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody argued that the proposed amendment is deceptive and that voters won’t realize just how far it will expand access to the procedure.

The ruling could give Democrats a boost in the polls in a state that used to be a toss-up in presidential elections. While many voters aren’t enthusiastic about a rematch between former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, it could inspire more abortion rights advocates to cast a ballot. Trump won Florida four years ago.

The proposed amendment says “no law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.” It provides for one exception that is already in the state constitution: Parents must be notified before their minor children can get an abortion.

Proponents of the measure argued the language of the ballot summary and the proposed amendment are concise and that Moody was playing politics instead of letting voters decide the issue.

Florida is one of several states where voters could have a direct say on abortion questions this year.

There has been a major push across the country to put abortion rights questions to voters since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and removed the nationwide right to abortion. Referendums to guarantee abortion rights are set for Maryland and New York, and activists on both sides of the issue in at least seven other states are working to get measures on 2024 ballots.

RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA

Voters will decide whether to allow companies that grow and sell medical marijuana to sell it to adults over 21 for any reason. The ballot measure also would make possession of marijuana for personal use legal.

Moody also argued this proposal is deceptive, in part, because federal law still doesn’t allow use of marijuana for recreational or medical use of marijuana. She argued that the court previously erred when it approved the language for the medical marijuana ballot initiative voters passed in 2016.

This, too, could be an issue that motivates more Democrats to vote.

The court’s review of the ballot language was limited to whether voters could understand it and that it contained a single issue, not on the merits of the proposal itself. The measures need 60% approval from voters to pass.

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Florida voters will decide whether to protect abortion rights and legalize pot in November