New polling suggests that Florida could become the first state in the Deep South to legalize marijuana for medical use. A Quinnipiac University survey indicates that 82% of registered voters support a legal medical marijuana regime.
Marijuana reform enjoys support across demographic and ideological backgrounds with 88% of Independents most in favor of medical marijuana, followed by 87% of Democrats and 70% of Republicans. The poll also revealed an overall favorable attitude toward legalization of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use with 48% in favor and 46% opposed.
The poll results come ahead of a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow licensed Florida physicians to prescribe marijuana for people with "debilitating diseases,” and authorizes the state Department of Health to administer and regulate marijuana production and distribution centers.
Despite the overwhelming support for the amendment, the measure faces opposition from Republican officials. Gov. Rick Scott and State Attorney General Pam Bondi argue the proposed amendment would be too lenient, saying, “So long as a physician held the opinion that the drug use 'would likely outweigh' the risks, Florida would be powerless to stop it."
To that effect, Bondi has filed a motion with the Florida Supreme Court that could prevent the amendment from reaching the 2014 ballot. The court is scheduled to hear the matter on Dec. 5. If the measure comes before Florida voters next year and passes, Florida would join 20 states and the District of Columbia that have already adopted medical marijuana programs.
The Quinnipiac poll of 1,646 registered voters was conducted from November 12 – 17, 2013 with a margin of error +/- 2.4 percentage points.