87% Of Floridians Back Marijuana Legalization

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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The overwhelming majority of Floridians favor legalizing medical marijuana and while just over half are in favor making marijuana legal.

The Quinnipac poll showed 87 percent of Floridians supported making marijuana legal for medical purposes if it was prescribed by a doctor. A little over half supported introducing a legal regime to tax and regulate recreational marijuana.

Though the majority of people in the Sunshine State took a libertarian view on marijuana legalization, just 7 percent of those polled said they would use cannabis if it was legal, with 19 percent saying they would “probably use it.” Almost two-thirds of Floridians said they would not use pot if it was legal.

Quinnipiac poll conducted similar polling in both Ohio and Pennsylvania, with broadly similar results. Legalization of medical marijuana commanded 90 percent support in both states.

There were significant differences among the population’s views based on their age and gender. “If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then the Red Planet might be the more spacey place,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “That’s because men are more likely than women to support legalization of marijuana for recreational use.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, younger voters were more likely to be in favor of a more libertarian approach to marijuana, than their older counterparts. Among those age 18 to 34 years for legalizing marijuana  stood at 66 percent.

For the 35-49 year olds, support for abandoning the war on cannabis dropped substantially, with 52 percent in favor and 44 percent against. The group most hostile to the suggestion of legalization were the elderly of 65 and over, with 56 percent against pot legalization.

Pro-marijuana groups such as Floridians for Freedom are pushing to amend the Florida Constitution to protect pot users from criminal prosecution. The pro-cannabis movement in Florida suffered a setback last year after the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative didn’t muster enough support to reach the threshold to become law.

But support for marijuana legalization is growing in many parts of the country– even some of the most conservative states. According to a Texas Lyceum Poll, 46 percent of Texans support legalizing cannabis – a substantial increase from just a third, four years ago. Public opinion in the state is still marginally opposed to a more relaxed policy on pot, with 50 percent against full legalization.

But even among those who weren’t in favor of Colorado-style medical and recreational policy, 57 percent supported lighter punishments and effective decriminalization for those caught with under an ounce of pot, compared to 39 percent who favored the status quo.

Taking into account those who favored legalization and decriminalization, just 19.5 percent of adult Texans wanted to retain full prohibition, according to the poll’s executive summary.

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Guy Bentley