Poll: 57% support medical marijuana ballot question

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A majority of Floridians support the use of medical marijuana, according to a new University of Florida poll.

The poll, conducted by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service in collaboration with the UF Bureau of Economic and Business Research, the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9, found that 57 percent of respondents said that they would vote yes on Amendment 2, while 23 percent said they would vote no.

The Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative is on the November ballot. If approved by at least 60 percent of the voters, as required by state law, the amendment would legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes as determined by a licensed Florida physician.

Amendment 2 supporters say the measure would help those suffering from "debilitating medical conditions" such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Crohn's and Parkinson's disease. Opponents argue that allowing medicinal use of marijuana will lead to a substantial increase in its recreational use.

Paul Doering, emeritus distinguished service professor in UF's department of pharmacotherapy and translational research and co-director of the statewide Drug Information and Pharmacy Resource Center, said he is not at all surprised at the percentage of Floridians who say they would vote in favor of the amendment, but he believes the law is written too broadly and does not ensure adequate regulation.

"What concerns me most is the vague reference regarding who would qualify for medical marijuana under the law," Doering said. "While I sympathize with those who suffer from truly debilitating medical conditions, approving this amendment could ultimately become a thinly veiled agenda for approving recreational marijuana use."

He noted that other states have shown that the lack of sufficient oversight leads to ease of access and abuse.

"If the experience in California is any indication, I can foresee certain practitioners recommending marijuana for otherwise minor conditions under the guise that it is for treatment of a debilitating medical condition," Doering said.