Florida Voters Overwhelmingly Support Medical Marijuana Legalization

Florida attorney general Pam Bondi speaks at a news conference on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011 in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
Florida attorney general Pam Bondi speaks at a news conference on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011 in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

A large majority of Florida voters -- 82 percent -- supported legalizing medical marijuana, but were divided on recreational pot use, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

The survey found strong support for legalizing medical marijuana, with a doctor's prescription, across every age group, political affiliation and income level. Eighty-eight percent of independents supported it -- the most of any political affiliation. Among Republicans, 70 percent backed medical marijuana, while 26 percent opposed it. Ninety percent of voters younger than 30 approved of medical marijuana.

The poll showed 48 percent favored legalizing recreational marijuana use, and 46 percent opposed. Men backed recreational pot more than women.

The poll showed the most support ever for medical marijuana in Florida at a time when pot advocates are pushing a proposed state constitutional amendment to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The amendment, with backers that include the group People United for Medical Marijuana are fighting to put on next year's election ballot, seeks to allow the "medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician," including cancer, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.

“If the folks who want to legalize medical marijuana in Florida can get their proposal on the ballot, they are overwhelmingly favored to prevail next November,” said assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute Peter Brown.

The ballot initiative is opposed by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) and will be argued before the Florida Supreme Court at a crucial hearing on Dec. 5.

"The proposal hides the fact that the amendment would make Florida one of the most lenient medical-marijuana states, allowing use for limitless 'other conditions' specified by any physician,'' Bondi said in a brief filed in the state Supreme Court Friday. "With no 'condition' off limits, physicians could authorize marijuana for anything, any time, to anyone, of any age. But rather than tell voters of this extraordinary scope, the summary uses language to prey on voters’ understandable sympathies for Florida’s most vulnerable patients --- those suffering 'debilitating diseases.'"

Quinnipiac University conducted the poll from Nov. 12 to Nov. 17 and surveyed 1,646 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points. The survey included 544 Democrats with a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points.

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