Early estimates had as many as 88 percent of Florida voters in favor of passing Amendment 2, to legalize the use and distribution of medical marijuana, but voters bluntly rejected the bill on Tuesday with only 58 percent of voters voting in favor of the bill.
In recent weeks polling had proved inconclusive. One poll echoed the early estimates showing that over 70% of Floridians supported the measure, while others disputed the accuracy of this poll. A poll conducted by the University of North Florida showed 67% approval, while another conducted by the Tampa Bay Times found only 46% of Floridians in support of Amendment 2. The bill needed 60% voter approval to pass. It should be noted that Florida is the only state which requires 60% approval to pass a ballot initiative.
Now clearly Amendment 2 had widespread popular support, has evidenced by the 58% approval rate, but suffered major setbacks when it became the target of a well funded pushback by major Republican donor and Las Vegas Casino mogul Sheldon Anderson. Anderson spent $5.5 million in recent months to support Drug Free Florida’s campaign against Amendment 2. This led to a surge in ads that indicated the bill was riddled with holes that could easily be exploited if the bill was implemented.
Amendment 2 would have given doctors the ability to prescribe marijuana for 8 “debilitating” diseases including: cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Crohn’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Patients would have had to obtain a doctor’s certification of their condition, which would then qualify them for a patient ID card which they could use at licensed dispensaries.
Despite the setback John Morgan who spent approximately $5 million in support of Amendment 2 is vowing to try again in the 2016 election due to the fact the presidential elections tend to draw more voters to the polls.
Even though medical marijuana is not legal in Florida Tuesday’s results clearly were an indication of medical marijuana’s popular and political support in the state.