Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Poll: Medical marijuana support in Florida crosses age, political lines

With tolerance for marijuana increasing around the country, a poll released Monday indicates that Florida may not lag far behind.

According to the Quinnipiac University poll, 88 percent of Florida voters now would allow use of marijuana for medical purposes — broad support that cuts across age, gender and political lines. That is up from 82 percent support that Quinnipiac reported in November.

About 55 percent of Floridians would legalize marijuana for recreational use, the poll reported — up 7 percent from November.

It's not entirely clear what the poll results will mean for a constitutional amendment on medical marijuana that will go to Florida voters Nov. 4. Quinnipiac's question is not the same as the ballot language.

But the poll does show increasing acceptance of marijuana use — medical or otherwise — consistent with a nationwide trend. Twenty-three states and the District of Colombia now allow medical marijuana. Colorado and Washington have approved recreational use.

Sunday, the New York Times called on Congress to end criminalization of pot at the federal level, citing 658,000 arrests for possession in 2012. Those arrests disproportionately fell on young black men, "for a substance far less dangerous than alcohol,'' the newspaper wrote.

Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, which is promoting Florida's medical marijuana amendment, hailed the poll results.

"What is true today will be true on Election Day,'' Pollara said. "Allowing sick and suffering individuals to follow the orders of their physician is simply not a controversial position for the vast majority of voters.''

Florida's Amendment 2 would allow people with debilitating conditions to get a medical marijuana card. A doctor would have to conduct an examination, take the patient's medical history and issue a recommendation to the state that pot would be beneficial.

Over the last few years, various groups have polled Floridians about medical marijuana. Results vary depending on the wording of the question and when the poll was taken. Support has typically ranged between 60 and 75 percent.

Quinnipiac's poll asked voters if they would favor letting adults use pot with a doctor's prescription. The amendment language, however, does not restrict use to adults. Plus, doctors cannot prescribe pot, which is not an FDA-approved medicine. They can only recommend its use.

"This poll has been, and continues to be, a complete outlier in support of medical marijuana because it asks a question that won't be on the ballot,'' said Sarah Bascom, spokeswoman for the Vote No on 2 campaign. "Even the recent poll by the Yes on 2 campaign shows significantly less support for their own amendment than this poll that relies on misleading wording and flawed methodology."

Support for Amendment 2 could also drop once the campaign advertising battle begins in earnest. In Florida, polling numbers for any constitutional amendment tend to drop once the opposition weighs in.

The Vote No on 2 group has amassed a war chest of more than $3 million, including $2.5 million from Las Vegas gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson and $322,000 from Publix CEO Carol Jenkins Barnett.

They have hired John Sowinski, an Orlando consultant widely regarded as Florida's guru for orchestrating constitutional amendment fights.

Orlando lawyer John Morgan, who financed the petition campaign to get Amendment 2 on the ballot, has yet to pitch in big sums to get it passed.

Constitutional amendments in Florida require at least a 60 percent majority, traditionally a high bar, but Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said the latest polling results "make a strong bet the referendum is likely to pass.''

As far as recreational use goes, the poll showed a gender split, with men favoring legalization of "small amounts of marijuana for personal use" by 61 percent to 36 percent while women are more skeptical, with 49 percent approving and 45 percent opposed.

Young voters support the idea by a 72 percent to 25 percent margin, while voters 65 and older are opposed by a margin of 59 percent to 36 percent.

The survey also found that 71 percent of voters would support having a medical marijuana dispensary in the town where they live. The lowest level of support for having a dispensary in their neighborhoods comes from voters over age 65, with 57 percent in favor and 37 percent opposed.

The poll found that 44 percent of Florida voters say they have tried pot, including 51 percent of men, 39 percent of women and 48 percent of voters ages 18 to 29. Just 23 percent of voters over 65 say they've tried marijuana.

Connecticut-based Quinnipiac frequently conducts polls in Florida and other states. From July 17 to 21, it surveyed 1,251 registered Florida voters with a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report. Stephen Nohlgren can be reached at

A cancer patient  holds a  roll of  MEDI-JUANA in this June 24, 2004, file photo, in Portland, Ore. [Associated Press]

A cancer patient holds a roll of MEDI-JUANA in this June 24, 2004, file photo, in Portland, Ore. [Associated Press]


Medical marijuana

You've got questions, and we've got answers. Check out our full coverage on Amendment 2 in Florida, which, if passed on Nov. 4, would legalize medical marijuana.

Poll: Medical marijuana support in Florida crosses age, political lines 07/28/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 5:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 21: Tears of love and parting mark the beginning of the final leg of a pilgrim's journey.


    Day 21: León to Hospital de Orbigo: 32.6 km, 8.75 hours. Total for Days 1-21 = 498 km (309 miles)

  2. Pinellas detectives investigating shooting that led to car crash

    Public Safety

    LARGO — Pinellas Sheriff's detectives are investigating a shooting that investigators said led to a man crashing his car after he was shot in the abdomen early Tuesday.

  3. Trump tweets, McCain return set stage for health bill vote (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump urged Republicans to "step up to the plate" for Tuesday's crucial Senate vote on their bill eviscerating much of the Obama health care law. The stage was set for high drama, with Sen. John McCain returning to the Capitol to cast his first vote since being diagnosed with brain …

    President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and others, speaks about healthcare, Monday, July 24, 2017, in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington. [Associated Press]
  4. Teenage driver livestreams crash that killed sister in California (w/video)


    FRESNO, Calif. — A teenage driver lost control of her car while she was livestreaming on Instagram and recorded part of the crash that authorities say killed her younger sister in California.

    This July 22, 2017 photo provided by the Merced County Sheriff, shows Obdulia Sanchez in Merced, Calif. Sanchez has been arrested in California on suspicion of causing a deadly crash that she recorded live on Instagram. She was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of DUI and vehicular manslaughter after Friday's crash that killed her 14-year-old sister and badly injured another 14-year-old girl. [Merced County Sheriff via AP]
  5. Fiancee: Clearwater driver in truck trafficking case helped people


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When a long-haul truck driver from Clearwater called his fiancee Sunday from a jail more than 1,000 miles from home, he had only a few minutes to describe the gruesome events that led to him being charged with a crime in which he could face the death penalty.

    James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, center, is escorted out of the federal courthouse following a hearing, Monday, July 24, 2017, in San Antonio. Bradley was arrested in connection with the deaths of multiple people packed into a broiling tractor-trailer. [Associated Press]