Florida’s attempt to become the 24th state to completely legalize medical marijuana is beginning to look inevitable – with a new poll showing support from 88 percent of likely voters.
The level of support is the same as Quinnipiac University Polling Institute’s previous poll on the subject, which came out in May. This time, the highest support (95 percent) came from people ages 18 to 29; the lowest (80 percent) came from Republicans.
Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in the state, needs 60 percent of the vote to pass this November.
The new numbers are significant because two well-funded opposition groups have formed since the May poll — Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot, a campaign from the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Drug Free America Foundation, and Vote No on 2, a project of Drug Free Florida.
While months of campaigning by both sides so far has not appeared to change support, the battle will likely continue heavily until November.
“When we talk to people about what Amendment 2 would really bring to Florida,” said Calvina Fay, the executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, “they’re completely appalled by it.”
Fay and other opponents say Amendment 2 would result in an explosion of marijuana dispensaries, de facto legalization for recreational use as shady doctors justify it for any perceived ailment, and would allow minors access to a ready supply of pot.
But supporters say the amendment is specific about ailments that can be treated with marijuana. Additionally, the state would regulate dispensaries and while the amendment does offer the possibility of minors getting access to pot, there are already state laws in place requiring doctors to gain parental consent before any nonemergency medical treatment.
The latest Quinnipiac poll results “really speaks to the fact that this is not a controversial issue for Floridians,” said Ben Pollara, spokesman of United for Care, which got the state constitutional amendment on the ballot.
While the state Legislature recently legalized certain strains of marijuana for very specific uses, Amendment 2 would open the door to all medical marijuana and would include many more ailments and disabilities.
It specifically references cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or “other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”
However, even Pollara concedes support for Amendment 2 may be considerably lower than the 88 percent cited in the poll because of the way the question was phrased.
Quinnipiac asked: “Do you support or oppose allowing adults in Florida to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it?”
The problem, Pollara said, is “they ask about adults, and that’s one of the things that [opposition groups are] using against us.”
But those opposed to Amendment 2 cited more than just the “adult” aspect of Quinnipiac’s question.
“It asked people whether they would approve their doctor ‘prescribing’ marijuana,” said Fay. “And no doctor can prescribe marijuana. They can only recommend it. And, there’s no requirement that people get the marijuana from their doctor.”
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