New poll shows medical marijuana in Florida winning by 78 percentage points

Mel Sembler has his work cut out for himself.

The St. Petersburg-based major Republican fundraiser and anti-drug advocate has coughed up $100,000 to establish Drug Free Florida, a political action committee dedicated to defeating a FL constitutional amendment that would allow pot use for debilitating conditions. The group is definitely working at a bit of a disadvantage, as a new Quinnipaic Poll released this morning shows the medical marijuana intiative winning by a 88-10 percent margin. Such a margin is pretty much unheard of for any such amendment.

And get this, cannabis aficionados — a majority, 53 percent, would like weed to be legalized period, and not just for those whose pain could be alleviated by smoking the substance. Interestingly, only 45 percent of those surveyed admitted they've tried pot, but among voters 50 to 64 years old, 62 percent admit smoking pot — more than any other group.

"If Vegas were giving odds on medical marijuana becoming legal in Florida, the bookies would be betting heavily," said Quinnipiac's Peter Brown. "With almost nine in 10 voters favoring legalization for medical purposes, and bills allowing such use advancing in the state Legislature, the odds seem pretty good Florida may join the states which already have done so."

The poll also asked about another hot-button issue — college athletes, and whether or not they should be paid and/or should be able to join a union. The poll found Floridians opposed to the idea of unionization for college athletes by a 51-41 percent margin. And they were definitely opposed to paying them anything beyond their scholarship, 63-31 percent. The poll did not ask about stipends.

The issue has been brewing for months, with Northwestern University students granted the ability to vote on a union last month (the results have not been released yet).

However, black voters support paying salaries to college athletes 68-27 percent, the only listed group to support the idea.

The poll comes less than a week after the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, Florida State University football and baseball star Jameis Winston, was cited for shoplifting $32 worth of crab legs and crawfish from a Publix supermarket. He was issued a civil citation and entered a program that required 20 hours of community service.  

Many student-athletes have complained that because their schedule is so full of classes and practices, they can't work a part-time job and thus deserve some type of financial compensation beyond their scholarship to get by.

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