Giddy up, Floridians tell pollster about implementation of medical marijuana initiative

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As the Florida Legislature continues to debate the implementation of a popular medical marijuana initiative, voters believe the state is moving too slow in doing so, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

The survey by nationally-recognized pollster Tony Fabrizio of Fabrizio, Lee & Associates found that 44 percent of Floridians believe the implementation of Amendment 2 is going too slowly, compared to 30 percent who think the state is moving at the right clip. Just 9 percent think it is going too fast.

Those who voted for Amendment 2 are even more likely to feel the state is taking too long, with 57% saying it is going too slowly compared to only 30% who think the state is moving at the right speed.

Governor Rick Scott and the Legislature get poor marks on their efforts to implement the bill. A total of 34 percent support how Scott is acting on the issue, with 41 percent opposing. Amongst the Legislature, 37 percent them and 40 percent oppose.

“We hope the Legislature will respect the wisdom of the people and fight the bait-and-switch game recreational proponents are playing,” said Brian Hughes, a spokesman for Smart Medicine for Florida. “Passage and implementation of Amendment 2 should never be about recreational use or putting pot shops on every corner.”

There was intense criticism from the public when the state Department of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use held public hearings on the issue earlier this year.

Regarding the number of medical marijuana dispensaries that will be accessible, those polled say that they believe the measure would limit the number of dispensaries, by a 54 percent to 30 percent margin. The poll does not specify any number of dispensaries.

There are currently campaign efforts to get a constitutional amendment before the voters next year to legalize marijuana outright, but the poll shows that measure is nowhere close to getting the 60 percent margin required for passage. 48 percent oppose the legalization of pot for everyone, and 46 percent support it. Amongst Amendment 2 supporters, the measure gets strong support, with 6o percent in support and 34 percent opposing.

The poll by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates was conducted February 28, 2017 through March 2, 2017, and polled 800 Floridians who self-identified as having voted in the 2016 General Election.  The margin of error at the 95 percent confidence interval is +3.46%.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.