With six months to go before the November ballot, it appears the wave of support for legalization of medical marijuana is building to a crescendo. A new poll shows nearly 9 of 10 Florida voters support Amendment 2. It would amend the state constitution to make legal use of pot for medical purposes. Also, the overwhelming passage Friday of the Charlotte’s Web legislative bill, allowing one specific strain of pot to be used to alleviate severe seizures, has supporters riding high.
They, along with some politicians and political experts, say it all points to an increasingly likely victory in November. The poll from Quinnipiac University, in Connecticut, says 88 percent of Florida voters now support allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes, if a doctor prescribes it. That’s 17 points higher than the 70 percent reported in a consultant’s 2013 poll for the United for Care campaign, which leads the push for legality. However, another new poll done by a marketing company in Winter Springs says support is at 60 percent.
Susan MacManus, professor of public administration and political science at the University of South Florida, cautioned against relying on polls. The bottom line is the law says the amendment has to pass by 60 percent of the vote. If the vote on Nov. 2 is any less than that, the measure fails. “Most of the polls say if the election were held today, it would pass. But the election is not being held today,” she said. However, “Unless significant opposition is raised between now and Election Day, it looks like this amendment may pass,” MacManus said.
The consensus is passage of the Charlotte’s Web bill by the Legislature will help the movement. “Yes, I think it’s going to help us with momentum,” said John Morgan, the Orlando-based attorney who is chairman of People United for Medical Marijuana. He spearheaded the campaign, dubbed United for Care, to make medical marijuana legal. He also spent $4 million of his own money.
“A year ago, the governor said he would never support any form of medical marijuana. He’s going to,” Morgan said Tuesday. “One of the biggest arguments has been marijuana should never be given to children. This is only about children, primarily. A year ago, we couldn’t even have a discussion. Now we’ve got law. It’s going to happen.”
The bill, passed in the waning hours of the legislative session, says the strain of marijuana called Charlotte’s Web may be used to help those who suffer from a severe form of epileptic seizures. The strain is low in THC, the substance that creates a high, and would be administered as an oil. Gov. Rick Scott was against the bill, and he even had the Florida surgeon general testify against it before the Legislature. But after the bill passed, Scott said he would sign it.
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