TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Floridians really, really support the legalization of medical marijuana, according to a poll released Monday morning.
The poll found that 88 percent of Florida voters approve of medical marijuana, including 83 percent of voters age 65 and older and 95 percent of those between 18 and 29.
Supporters of medical marijuana in Florida are looking optimistically at the new poll.
The support also crosses party lines, the poll by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut found. Eighty percent of Republicans — whose level of support was the lowest of any subgroup — back the idea and just 19 percent oppose it.
“Forget the stereotypes of stodgy old folks living out their golden years playing canasta and golf,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said in a prepared statement accompanying the results. “Almost nine in 10 Floridians favor legalizing medical marijuana and a small majority says adults should be able to possess small amounts of the drug for recreational purposes.”
The overwhelming support should cheer backers of a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would allow doctors to order marijuana for patients. Opponents of the measure have pumped at least $3 million into efforts to defeat Amendment 2, which has received heavy financial backing from Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan.
“Even though a proposal to legalize medical marijuana, on the ballot this November, must meet a 60 percent threshold, these numbers make a strong bet the referendum is likely to pass,” Brown said.
Florida voters also support allowing recreational marijuana by a 55 percent to 41 percent margin, but men and women are split on the issue, the poll found. Men support allowing Floridians “to legally possess 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.
“No ‘Not in My Backyard’ mentality here. By an almost 3-to-1 majority, Florida voters would allow a medical marijuana dispensary near where they live,” Brown said.
Many law enforcement officials, however, remain against the legalization.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office is part of the Florida Sheriff’s Association that is currently campaigning against a medical marijuana vote in Florida come November.
The Association of Sheriffs called the poll misleading.
“Sadly, the Quinnipiac poll released today continues to poll Floridians with general questions that they are more likely to support,” the statement reads. “If Floridians were given all the details about this amendment, the poll results would be drastically different.”
Some Florida voters, like Fernando Pulido, are not in favor of medical marijuana use and said the poll would not sway him.
“It’s not very focused,” said Pulido. “It prompts the person to actually say, ‘Yes.'”
And 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.
For those in favor, however, the poll is further proof that change is coming.
“This, is going to bring tons of teenagers to actually vote for something that’s positive…something that’s different,” said Gabriel Velasquez.
The Connecticut-based Quinnipiac frequently conducts polls in Florida and other states. From July 17 to July 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.