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Is Support Slipping For Florida’s Medical Marijuana Initiative?

Is support falling among Florida voters for Amendment 2, the constitutional amendment that seeks to permit the physician-recommended use of cannabis in the Sunshine State? The answer depends on which polls you believe; and which you don’t.

Five separate polls surveying Floridians’ support for the measure, which would allow doctors to recommend cannabis therapy at their discretion and would mandate the state Department of Health to license and regulate facilities to produce and dispense the plant, have been released in recent weeks. And their results are anything but consistent.

Three recent polls show the measure leading by more than 60 percent. Among these, a September 22 poll commissioned by the measure’s proponents, United for Care, reports that 69 percent of likely voters endorse the amendment versus only 28 percent opposed. This support level is similar to the percentages reported previously in a September 1 Gravis Marketing poll which found that 64 percent of voters back the measure, while 33 percent oppose it.

But a September 10 Public Policy Polling survey reported that just 61 percent of Floridians intend to vote ‘yes’ on 2 — down from 66 percent support in June. Since the ballot question seeks to amend the state’s constitution, it requires support from at least 60 percent of the vote in order to be enacted.

By contrast, two other recent statewide polls indicate that public support for Amendment 2 has dipped below this necessary 60 percent threshold. A Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Bob Graham Center poll released on September 3 reported 57 percent support for the measure among likely voters. Finally, a Survey USA poll released on September 23 reported that overall support for Amendment 2 had fallen to 53 percent among likely voters. Among women, only 46 percent said that they intended to vote ‘yes’ for the measure.

Nonetheless, despite the inconsistent polling results, the measure’s backers remain confident, noting that their internal polling numbers have held steady throughout the campaign.

“United for Care has conducted four internal polls since January 2013, employing three different pollsters,” the group reported in a press release. “The first survey by Hamilton Campaigns showed 70 percent support in January 2013.  The second, carried out in March of 2013 by the Kitchens Group, revealed 71 percent intended to vote ‘yes.’ A June 2014 poll by Anzalone Liszt Research and Public Opinion Strategies reported 70 percent voter support for the amendment.”

Added Ben Pollara, Campaign Manager at United for Care: “If you look at the poll numbers since the beginning of last year they are virtually unchanged, and they reassert what we’ve consistently said: Floridians overwhelmingly support medical marijuana. Keeping medical decisions in the hands of doctors, not politicians, is simply not a controversial position for the vast majority of Floridians, and that has not changed over the last twenty-one months.”

In the coming weeks, the ‘No on 2’ campaign is expected to spend as much as $1.6 million in television ads opposing the measure.

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