Mitch Perry Report 7.28.14: New poll shows 55 percent of Floridians want pot legalized for everyone

Although the polls have varied regarding the medical marijuana initiative on this November's ballot in Florida, Quinnipiac University's surveys have consistently given the highest ratings for approval of such a measure, and their latest surveyreleased this morning, does so again, with an 88-10 approval rating, including Republicans favoring it 80-19.

The poll also says that 55-41 percent of Sunshine State voters support  "allowing adults in Florida to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use," or so-called "recreational marijuana," as Quinnipiac phrases it, albeit inside quotation marks.

The Q-poll comes a couple of weeks after two consecutive surveys showed the measure to be in doubt. Last month Gravis Marketing had Amendment 2 only at 50-37 support, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce poll had the measure up only by a 58-36 percent rating. If those surveys are accurate and percentages were to remain at those levels,  the measure would fail in November, since passage requires 60 percent support from Florida registered voters.

One hundred days from Election Day, the reality is that the measure does look likely to pass, but by what margin is up for grabs. An 88 percent margin of support seems doubtful. What's most surprising in the poll is its finding that by a  71-26 percent margin, Floridians say they would support having a marijuana dispensary in the town or city where they live.

But what about recreational pot? The New York Times made waves yesterday with an editorial supporting the legalization of weed, an important moment in the evolution of the movement. The Times is endorsing the notion that the federal government should repeal the ban on pot, and let the states handle it. 

And that's where the power of citizen-led initiatives or, in Florida's case, constitutional amendments comes into place. Let's face it, medical marijuana would never happen in Florida if it were left up to the GOP-controlled Legislature led by Will Weatherford and Don Gaetz. Yes, they passed the Charlotte's Web bill, but many say they did that as a way to show that they're not heartless about the fact that strains of pot can provide medical relief — but they also hoped that it would pre-empt the need for Amendment 2. But so far that message hasn't reached the majority of the public — and that's according to every poll that's out there in Florida.

In other news…

Paul Ryan made a brief appearance on NBC's Meet The Press yesterday to talk about his new (and interesting) anti-poverty plan.

Nan Rich has exactly 29 days to convince Florida Democratic primary voters that she should be the party's nominee for governor...

And two progressive groups have released a new ad just as opponents of an EPA proposal to reduce carbon emissions gets more attention.

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