As many as seven in 10 Florida voters support a state constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana – more than enough to ensure passage and possibly affect the governor’s race — according to a new poll from a group trying to put the measure on the 2104 ballot.
Medical pot’s sky-high approval cuts across party and demographic lines, with Republican support the lowest at a still-strong 56 percent, the poll conducted for People United for Medical Marijuana, or PUFMM, shows.
The outsized support of Democrats and independents brings overall backing of the amendment to 70 percent; with only 24 percent opposed, according to the poll obtained by The Miami Herald.
Regionally, voters from the Miami and Orlando areas, among the most socially liberal in the state, want medical marijuana the most.
Non-Hispanic white women, blacks and Hispanics — all Democratic leaning — are the most-likely to back the measure and could be more likely to turn out to vote in two years if the medical marijuana makes the ballot.
“Supporters of the proposed amendment are less certain to cast ballots in the 2014 governor’s race,” David Beattie, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson’s pollster, wrote in an analysis of the poll of 600 registered voters taken Jan. 30-Feb. 3 by his firm, Hamilton Campaigns.
If it made the ballot, the measure would draw even more attention to Florida’s nationally watched 2014 election in which Gov. Rick Scott will fight for his political life.
“The proposal to allow the medical use of marijuana could provide a message contrast in the Governor’s race,” Beattie wrote, “heightening its effectiveness as a turnout mechanism.”
But, Beattie warns PUFMM in a memo, “don’t frame turnout efforts on the passage of the ballot initiative in a partisan way.”
To that end, former-Republican-operative-turned-Libertarian Roger Stone is planning to join PUFMM’s efforts to give it a bipartisan feel.
A longtime backer of marijuana legalization, Stone, a Miami Beach resident, is seriously considering a run for governor, where he’ll likely advocate for the initiative called “Right to Marijuana for Treatment Purposes.”
On the Democratic side, former Nelson and Hillary Clinton fundraiser Ben Pollara, of Coral Gables, is signing up as the group’s treasurer. Pollara said they’ve had discussions with Eric Sedler, managing partner at Chicago-based ASGK Public Strategies, which he started in 2002 with former White House advisor David Axelrod, still a President Obama advisor.
“The poll numbers were very encouraging,” Pollara said. “But it’s still a Herculean effort.”
That’s because Florida’s Legislature and voters have made it tougher than ever to get measures on the ballot by citizen petition. PUFMM needs to collect the valid signatures of 683,149 Florida voters. That could cost up to $3.5 million.
Right now, PUFMM has raised just $41,000 and has collected only 100,000 signatures, not all of which are valid. Some might be too old because they were collected as far back as 2009.
PUFMM’s Florida director, Kimberly Russell, said the group hopes that this poll and the top-notch campaign minds could turn things around.
“If we get this on the ballot, we have a great chance of getting this passed,” Russell said. “The more these pass in other states, the more people support it everywhere else.”