Florida Voters Support Medical Marijuana

Posted on December 11, 2013 by Jeffrey Feiler

According to a poll released by Quinnipiac University, a majority of Florida voters support the legalization of medical marijuana. The poll comes at a time when marijuana advocates in Florida are trying amend the Florida Constitution to legalize medical marijuana.

The poll results indicate that 82% of Florida voters support the legalization of medical marijuana with a doctor's prescription. The poll confirms that support for legalizing medical marijuana is spread across every age group, political party and socioeconomic status. When broken down by group, the poll shows that 70% of Republicans, 88% of Independents, and 90% of voters under the age of 30 support the legalization of medical marijuana.

The Quinnipiac poll, which sampled 1,646 registered Florida voters in mid-November, shows a sizeable increase from a poll conducted in February of 2013, which indicated that 70% of Florida voters support the legalization of medical marijuana. The polls show that support for medical marijuana in Florida has risen 12% in only 10 months.

The poll is consistent with a recent non-binding straw poll conducted in Miami Beach, where 64% of voters called for the city to decriminalize marijuana for medical reasons.

United for Care is one of the primary backers of the proposed Amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. In August, United for Care gathered enough signatures from registered voters to have the Florida Supreme Court review the language of the proposed amendment. The Ballot Summary of the Amendment states that it would allow the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. If the Amendment is placed on the November 2014 ballot, it needs to pass by 60% of the vote to become law.

The United States is making strides in legalizing medical marijuana: 20 states and the District of Columbia have already legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Although medical marijuana is prohibited under Federal Law, the Department of Justice has recently issued statements honoring the medical marijuana laws of those states, and has indicated the Department will not prosecute legitimate medical marijuana businesses.

Despite an overwhelming voter support for medical marijuana in Florida, some of the state's leaders have rallied against United for Care's proposed Amendment. Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, opposes medical marijuana. Rick Scott's sentiments are echoed by Pam Bondi, Florida's Attorney General, who sent the Florida Supreme Court a petition to oppose the Amendment, arguing that the Amendment will make Florida one of the most lenient medical marijuana states. Mel Sembler, a major Florida Republican donor who is involved in the Drug Free America Foundation, also opposes the Amendment.

Unlike Scott and Bondi, Florida Democrat Charlie Crist, who is running against Rick Scott in the 2014 Florida gubernatorial race, supports medical marijuana. "This is an issue of compassions," Crist states, "you have people who feel that if there are people who are suffering through pain or lack of appetite, and you have a real doctor who prescribes medical marijuana, then I don't know why you would really be opposed to it, and so I'm not opposed to it." Crist is seven points ahead of Rick Scott in another Quinnipiac poll.

Notwithstanding opposition from the current Florida governor, Floridians should be allowed to vote on the Amendment next November. Florida voters are capable of understanding that the Amendment will legalize medical marijuana for those with a doctor's prescription and should be given the choice of deciding for themselves. If the recent polls accurately reflect voter sentiment over medical marijuana, then it is likely the Amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida will pass if it is on the ballot in November 2014.

Jeffrey Feiler is a well-known Miami Criminal Lawyer who has been successfully defending the rights of clients for over 30 years with a reputation for getting impressive results.

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