Support for Medical Marijuana Surges to 88% in Florida, Stoking Prospects for Amendment 2
FlaglerLive | May 5, 2014
Support for medical marijuana has been high for years in Florida, but never by this large a margin: 88 percent of Floridians support medical pot, as long as it is prescribed by a doctor, the latest Quinnipiac University Poll shows. The poll’s results exceed even those produced 14 months ago for People United for Medical Marijuana 14 months ago, when 70 percent of Floridians were found supporting legalization. In March, a University of North Florida poll found support for legalization from 74 percent of registered Florida voters.
The Quinnipiac results are a boon for Amendment 2, the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that seeks to legalize medical marijuana in the state. The amendment must get at least 60 percent approval to pass. Twenty states and the district of Columbia have either legalized marijuana outright or legalized it for patients who suffer from nausea, pains and other ailments that pot smoking can suppress.
“If Vegas were giving odds on medical marijuana becoming legal in Florida, the bookies would be betting heavily,” said Peter Brown,
assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll. “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.”
The prospects for Amendment 2 don’t stop with pot. The Amendment is expected to draw out voters who support it. The turnout may influence the outcome of the governor’s race pitting incumbent Rick Scott against former Gov. Charlie Crist, whose boss, John Morgan, is leading the battle to legalize medical marijuana.
The poll elicited answers about both medical and recreational marijuana. While medial marijuana was supported by 88 percent of respondents, and opposed by 10 percent, the use of small amount of recreational marijuana without penalties was supported by 53 percent, and opposed by 42 percent. Men support recreational marijuana 58 to 38 percent. Women support it but barely, 48-46 percent. Voters 18 to 29 years old support recreational marijuana especially (by a 72-24 percent margin), but voters older than 65 are opposed, 61 to 33 percent. Older voters, however, support medical marijuana by an 84-13 percent margin.
On the recreational front, support is 59–34 percent among Democrats and 61–36 percent among independent voters, with Republicans opposed 64–33 percent. When it comes to medical marijuana, even Republicans support it by an 80-16 percent margin, with Democrats (93-6) and Independents (89-10) giving it steeper support.
“Keeping in mind that all of your answers in this survey are confidential, have you, yourself ever happened to try marijuana?” The survey asked. A total of 45 percent of respondents said they’d tried it at least once in their lifetime. The number is close to the 42 percent total cited by researchers in a Time magazine article on pot smoking in the United States in 2008. More men than women admitted to smoking pot, and more Democrats and Independents than Republicans did, but by narrower margins.
Respondents were also asked a factual question: whether marijuana is more, less or equally dangerous as alcohol. Twelve percent declared it more dangerous, 39 percent declared it less dangerous, and 43 percent declared it equally as dangerous as alcohol. Marijuana is, in fact, far less dangerous than alcohol, whether in the way it affects driving abilities, cognitive functions or behavior, or the way it affects the body over time: no one has ever died from a pot overdose, because it is almost physically impossible to overdose on pot (it would require too many joints crammed in a smoking session too continuous to cause death). Some 88,000 deaths a year are attributed to alcohol.
Asked whether they believed that marijuana is a “gateway” drug–that using marijuana then triggers the use of other, harder drugs, 38 percent said yes, 54 percent said no.
The poll also asked respondents several questions about labor unions in general and labor unions for college athletes in particular.
With wide racial and age gaps, Florida voters oppose 51-41 percent allowing college athletes to form a union and oppose 63–31 percent paying salaries beyond scholarships to these athletes. Support for a college athlete union is 62–29 percent among Democrats, 69–29 percent
among voters 18 to 29 years old, 76–22 percent among black voters and 56–36 percent among Hispanic voters. Men, women, Republicans, independent voters, white voters and older age groups all oppose allowing athletes to form unions. Black voters support paying salaries to college athletes 68–27 percent, the only listed group to support the idea.
“Colleges are losing sight of their academic mission because of sports,” 56 percent of Florida voters, including 56 percent of men and 55 percent of women, say. Another 34 percent say “colleges are balancing their academic mission and sports appropriately.” There is
agreement among all listed groups.
Florida voters say 53–37 percent that labor unions are good for the country, with only Republicans saying 68–21 percent that unions are bad for the country. “Florida voters are all over the map when it comes to which college team they root for,” Brown said. “But with few exceptions, they are against unionizing college athletes, and they are even more set against paying the athletes. There are some differences between men and women, and larger differences among black, white and Hispanic voters, on these questions.”
“The overall findings should not be terribly surprising given the relatively low level of union membership throughout the state,” Brown said.