The latest Quinnipiac poll of voters on medicinal marijuana has the opposition crying foul. The poll released Monday morning showed that 88 percent of Florida voters support the idea. But opponents of Amendment 2, a proposed constitutional amendment allowing doctors to use marijuana to treat patients say the results are not relevant to a Florida debate because the poll did not specifically ask about Amendment 2.
Still, the lowest amount of support for the idea that doctors should be allowed to use marijuana as a medicine was an 80 – 19 percent margin among Republican voters.
“Isn’t that interesting,” said Marty Monroe, Monday. Monroe is a Tallahassee breast cancer survivor and spent Saturday drumming up support for Amendment 2 at a North Florida Democratic Club picnic.
“Common sense and compassion usually prevail in this nation. People have had some personal experiences with this or know people who have and when you have the issue presented people will step forward,” Monroe said about the overwhelming support indicated by the poll.
Opponents, including groups like Drug Free America, The Florida Sheriffs’ Association, and Vote No on 2, along with the Republican leadership in the legislature have warned that the amendment is poorly written and hides its true intent, which they say is “de facto legalization.”
Sarah Bascom, spokesperson for the Vote No on 2 Campaign attacked Quinnipiac’s wording and methodology.
Here’s what Quinnipiac asked 1,251 registered voters, “Do you support or oppose allowing adults in Florida to legally use marijuana for medical purpose if their doctor prescribes it?”
Opponents take issue with the use of the word “prescribes.” Statements from both Drug Free America and Vote No on 2 point out doctors will not be able to write “prescriptions” for marijuana if Amendment 2 were to pass.
Here is the language voters will see on the November ballot:
“Allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical .
Given the difference in language, opponents say the poll is not a valid indicator of support for Amendment 2.
“Why won’t Quinnipiac ask whether or not voters support Amendment 2, which is the only thing that will appear on the ballot,” said Bascom. “This poll has been, and continues to be, a complete outlier in support of medical marijuana because it asks a question that won’t be on the ballot.”
Calvina Fay, executive director of Drug Free America, echoed Bascom’s criticism.
“This poll does not address the realities of Amendment 2,” said Fay. “This amendment would allow storefront docs similar to pot docs, with no relationship to patients, to simply recommend pot to anyone with even a slight ache.”
The ballot summary states that the amendment, “Allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers.”
Proponents successfully defended the language before the Supreme Court against charges the ballot summary was misleading. It was placed on the ballot when more than 700,000 voters signed a petition to allow voters to decide the issue.
House Speaker Will Weatherford has said the measure would lead to pot shops “on every corner.”
“Historically, Florida’s Republican establishment have consistently opposed citizen initiatives,” said Damien Filer who successfully managed the class-size amendment pass the establishment’s opposition. “(But) Florida voters across the political spectrum seem to be reflecting a national trend when it comes to being open to legalizing marijuana, especially for medicinal use. “
Lawmakers passed a limited medicinal marijuana law in the spring. It authorizes a cannabis extract to treat certain seizure patients. Amendment 2 loosens restrictions much more. It allows the plant itself to be used as a treatment when a doctor believes potential benefits outweighs potential risks.
Florida’s Charlotte’s Web law was seen by many Tallahassee observers as an attempt by lawmakers to negate the need for Amendment 2. Until the petition gathering process started to show it would reach the number need to get the proposal on the November ballot, lawmakers had expressed no interest in the issue.
State Senator Jeff Clemens, D- Lake Worth, had sponsored a medical marijuana bill three consecutive legislation session without the measure ever scheduled for a hearing. Ben Pollara, campaign manager for Amendment 2, said the Quinnipiac poll shows medicinal marijuana is an uncontroversial issue for the vast majority of Florida voters.
“The fact is, most people agree that sick individuals should be able to follow their doctor’s orders without having to live like a criminal,” said Pollara.
Quinnipiac surveyed voters the week of July 17 and the poll had a margin of error of 2.8 percent. The previous poll taken in November indicated support was at 82 percent