A new poll by Quinnipiac University reveals that 82% of Florida voters support medical marijuana. Florida advocates are currently pushing for legislation that would allow seriously ill residents to use marijuana with a recommendation from their doctors.
Support for the proposed constitutional amendment is high among voters of every political stripe, age and income level, with independents lending the most support: 88 percent, the poll shows.
The overall 82-16 percent support for medical marijuana is the biggest to date. The previous high-point for Florida approval was about 70 percent in a poll taken earlier this year by the medical marijuana advocacy group, People United for Medical Marijuana.
Nearly half of Florida voters favor [legalization] — 48 percent — while 46 percent oppose pot legalization for personal use. That’s within the margin of error, but it’s a leading indicator of a shift in public opinion. Support for legalization is again strongest among independents (57-37 percent), and then Democrats (55-39 percent).
But Republicans are opposed 30-64 percent. Contrast that with GOP voter support for medical marijuana is solid: 70-26 percent.
This week, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur (D) released a plan to regulate marijuana like alcohol. “Marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco,” she told the Baltimore Sun. “It has been a failed policy for us as a nation to criminalize the use of this substance.”
Meanwhile, Attorney General Doug Gansler (D)’s spokesman said, “There does not appear to be a groundswell toward full-scale legalization here in Maryland nor does the attorney general feel that unrestrained legalization would be appropriate.”
On Tuesday, NBC and Esquire announced the results of a poll conducted by both Public Opinion Strategies and Benenson Strategy Group. The poll asked American voters a series of questions about social, economic, and political issues, and the results indicate a “new American center.” According to the poll, 51% of Americans fall into the new center: 28% of them are Republican, 36% are Democrat, and 36% Independent. The American center is also in favor of marijuana policy reform, with 52% supporting the legalization of marijuana and 34% strongly supporting the movement. You can see a breakdown of the various views of the American center here or view the full results of the poll here.
According to Talking Points Memo, Sen. John McCain made some comments Thursday that some may find surprising:
McCain’s comments could not have been better timed. Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Justice Department’s new policy allowing states to move forward with taxing and regulating marijuana. Arizona’s other senator, Jeff Flake, is a member of that committee. Sen. Flake will have the opportunity to question Justice Department officials and help shape the future of federal policy on marijuana.
On Wednesday, in an unofficial 80-59 vote, the New York Assembly passed legislation to reduce the penalty for publicly holding a small amount of marijuana. Only one Republican assembly member voted in favor of the bill: Steve Katz.
Assemblyman Steve Katz
Originally a staunch prohibitionist, Katz voted against allowing medical marijuana in 2012, but a brush with the law this past March seems to have brought about a change of heart.
The state police stopped Katz for speeding on the state thruway and subsequently found less than 25 grams of marijuana in his vehicle; he later failed a drug test. Fortunately for the assemblyman, in accordance with a favorable plea deal, his drug charges will be dismissed after he completes a mere 20 hours of community service (and keeps out of legal trouble for six months).
Katz declined to discuss his vote on Wednesday when approached in the Assembly chamber. However, he did issue a statement later in the day saying he hopes the bill leads to “a broader discussion of our state’s policies.”
The bill, if passed, would lower the penalty for the public possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation. It now faces an uncertain fate in the Senate.