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The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Senior Issue 2024
June 5, 2024

Floridians to Vote on Marijuana, Abortion Ballot Measures in November

Florida’s Supreme Court approved the ballot language in April
Via Wikimedia Commons

Marijuana and abortion measures are to appear on the Florida ballot in November after being approved by the Florida Supreme Court on April 1.

The Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for Amendments 3 and 4, which support legal recreational marijuana and limiting government intervention in abortion, respectively. In the November referendum, voters will decide on four other statewide ballot measures.

Ballotpedia explains that if approved, Amendment 3 would legalize recreational marijuana for those 21 and up, allowing up to 3 ounces of marijuana or 5 ounces in the form of concentrate. Current medical dispensaries would be authorized to sell accordingly without requiring a medical marijuana card.

Recreational vs. Medicinal

Since taking office, Governor Ron DeSantis has signed legislation into effect that increased state control on medical marijuana marketing despite calling on the state legislature to repeal a ban on safe, smokable marijuana early on in his term. Florida’s Department of Health has 871,000 registered medical marijuana patients, making it the largest medical marijuana program in the country.

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If the amendment passes, lawmakers will have six months to add specifications — such as whether sales will be taxed, potency limits, or marketing restrictions—that must be hammered out before it can go into effect. Legal challenges may tie up the amendment further.

As of 2019, marijuana possession has been decriminalized in Miami-Dade County — which means that county prosecutors will not enforce laws prohibiting the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Smoking in public areas, however, is still unlawful.

Voters will have a chance to enshrine abortion rights into Florida’s state constitution in November with Amendment 4. If approved, the amendment would require that “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 health care provider.” The amendment will continue to require that parents be notified if a minor wants an abortion.

The same day that Amendment 4 was approved, the high court upheld Florida’s 15-week abortion ban. This decision ensured that a six-week ban went into effect starting May 1 — before many women know they are pregnant. Exceptions will exist for rape, incest, and human trafficking victims for up to 15 weeks. The six-week ban marks — for now — the end of an era of Florida’s status as a southern state that provided more access to abortion.

Possible voter support

Both issues are expected to increase participation in the 2024 election, particularly among young people, for whom both debates are hot-button topics. Constitutional amendments in Florida require a 60 percent supporting vote to pass.

Recent polls by Florida Atlantic University show ambivalent opinions. Amendment 3 features 47% in support, 35% opposing, and 18% unsure. Respondents show 49 percent support, 19 percent oppose, and 32 percent are unsure of Amendment 4.

Abortion issues are expected to be a vital campaign talking point for the Biden administration as tensions ramp up in preparation for November’s general election. 

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About the Contributor
Panni Peschke
Panni Peschke, Design Editor

Panni Peschke is a senior at MAST Academy. A Miami native, her parents hail from Germany and Colombia, giving her an international background and a grasp on three languages.

Panni has been previously published in MAST’s literary magazine, Spilt Milk, and joined The Beacon to exercise her writing abilities. She aims to publish a healthy mix between sociopolitical issues and local experiences for her fellow students to enjoy.

In her spare time, Panni enjoys filling her parent’s counter, cabinet, and oven space with different materials for her baking obsession.

To complement her creative interests, Panni aims to study business to create a balance between arts and sciences.

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