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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Q Poll Florida: 88% back medical marijuana; 53% support outright legalization

Quinnipiac University has released a new poll concerning Floridians' attitudes about sports (they're against college players unionizing and getting paid).

Sports questions, however, are not on the ballot. Medical marijuana is.

And more and more, polls like this indicate it will pass. The issue garners 88 percent support, up from 82 percent the last time Quinnipiac surveyed the question.

One nit with the poll: It doesn't ask the specific ballot language, which says: "Allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not authorize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana."

But opponents shouldn't be jumping for joy over the poll's wording. The ballot amendment language sounds far more strict than the polling question. And the issue in general is starting to poll off the charts (it's one reason Republicans in the Legislature approved a limited low-THC medical marijuana bill that Gov. Rick Scott unexpectedly said he'd sign). But then, the poll question also specifies that prescription pot would be for adults, whereas the proposed amendment is silent on the issue.

Here''s Quinnipiac's language:

Florida voters support 88 – 10 percent allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes, if a doctor prescribes it. Support is over 80 percent among all listed groups, including 84 – 13 percent among voters over 65 years old.

By a smaller 53 – 42 percent majority, voters support allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use. There are gender, age and partisan gaps:

• Men support so-called recreational marijuana 58 – 38 percent, while women are divided, with 48 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed;

• Voters 18 to 29 years old support recreational marijuana 72 – 24 percent, with voters 30 to 64 years old in favor by smaller margins and voters over 65 years old opposed 61 – 33 percent.

• Support is 59 – 34 percent among Democrats and 61 – 36 percent among independent voters, with Republicans opposed 64 – 33 percent.

Only 45 percent of Florida voters admit they’ve tried marijuana. Among voters 50 to 64 years old, 62 percent admit smoking pot, more than any other group.

Marijuana is equally as dangerous as alcohol, 43 percent of voters say, while 39 percent say it is less dangerous and 12 percent say it is more dangerous.

Marijuana use does not lead to the use of other drugs, voters say 54 – 38 percent.

“If Vegas were giving odds on medical marijuana becoming legal in Florida, the bookies would be betting heavily,” said Brown. “With almost nine in 10 voters favoring legalization for medical purposes, and bills allowing such use advancing in the State Legislature, the odds seem pretty good Florida may join the states which already have done so.”

From April 23 – 28, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,413 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points.

[Last modified: Monday, May 5, 2014 9:19am]

    

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