Florida poll: Support for medical marijuana still up in the air

Harrison Thomas By Harrison Thomas February 2, 2015

Three months after the Florida referendum to legalize medical marijuana barely failed to reach the 60 percent threshold necessary to for it to become state law, 64 percent of Sunshine State voters support the idea, according to the Jan. 28-29 Gravis Insights poll of 693 registered voters.

“In the last cycle, the proponents of legalized medical marijuana worked with Charlie Crist campaign for governor to drive turnout for each other and they fell just short with 58 percent,” said Cherie Bereta Hymel, the managing partner of Gravis Insights, the Florida-based political consulting firm that conducted the poll. The poll carried a 3 percent margin of error. The Poll was conducted using IVR polling software.

At 64 percent, supporters of medical marijuana have to be pleased, he said. “But, the reality is that referendums in Florida that are not polling above 70 percent in early polling do not make the 60 percent threshold when the voters actually show up to vote.”

The next election is going to be a presidential year, so the turnout model is different from the midterm turnout in 2014, he said.

“Just a year ago, the old language had more than 70 percent support and now with the presidential turnout model, the new language gets only 64 percent,” Bereta Hymel said.

“Our polling shows that the new medical marijuana referendum loses among Republicans and Independents and is supported by only 73 percent of Democrats,” he said.

The ballot will read as follows: Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

Are you in favor of passing this amendment, to legalize medical marijuana, when it appears on the 2016 ballot?

Favor Amendment

Republican Florida Gov. Richard L. Scott defeated former governor Charles J. Crist Jr., is a close race, 48 to 47 percent, Bereta Hymel said. “Medical marijuana outpolled Scott by more than 500,000 votes, so it should not surprise people that movement to legalize medical pot is not going away.”

State Rep. Jeffrey P. Brandes (R.-St. Petersburg), who opposed medical marijuana three months ago, filed a bill Jan. 26 to put the referendum back on the ballot.

The Brandes-authored referendum would create two classes of licenses, one for retail outlets and one for the growing and processing of medical marijuana.

An important opponent of legalization was the Florida Medical Association, which also endorsed Brandes in the last election. It would be unlikely that Brandes would have made such a dramatic reversal without clearing the move with the FMA.

Another signal that that FMA is about to flip, is that Chris Clark, a senior aide to former Senate President Donald J. Gaetz (R-Niceville), left Gaetz’s staff at the end of his term as president and joined the FMA communications shop.

Gaetz, along with his son state Rep. Matthew L. Gaetz II (R.-Fort Walton Beach), is an adamant supporter of medical marijuana. The FMA would not hire Clark, a man so closely associated with the movement to legalize marijuana, unless something was in the works.

Bereta Hymel said in the new poll, 37 percent of voters said they FMA opposition to medical marijuana more likely to support its legalization.

“The impact of the FMA is hard to discern, 23 percent said they would be less like to support medical marijuana if the FMA was opposed,” he said.

If you knew that the Florida Medical Association was against Medical Marijuana, would it make you more or less likely to support its legalization in Florida?

Florida Medical Association

Medical Marijuana would not be available to purchase at your local pharmacy because it is illegal under FEDERAL law. If an amendment passes to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, medical marijuana would be sold in pot shops that only sell marijuana related products and not in pharmacies.

Knowing this, would you be more or less likely to support the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida?

PharmaciesThere is nothing in Florida law to inhibit or restrict the zoning or number of marijuana shops in Florida. Knowing this, would you be more or less likely to support its legalization in Florida?


Because marijuana remained against federal law, legalized medical marijuana in Florida would have to be distributed from state-sanctioned stores, not pharmacies, and there are no zoning laws governing marijuana stores on the books.

“Forty-one percent of voters are less likely to support legalization, when they are told there are no zoning restrictions for marijuana shops,” Bereta Hymel said. “But, 34 percent are more likely to support legalization.”

The FDA has not approved marijuana as a safe or effective drug. Because of this, doctors cannot prescribe it to patients. If medical marijuana was legalized in the state of Florida it would allow doctors to simply recommend marijuana to patients, but it would not be an official prescription.

Knowing this, would you be more likely to support or less likely to support medical marijuana legalization in Florida?


Forty-two percent of voters would support legalization after being told that because the Food and Drug Administration has not approved medical marijuana, doctors cannot write prescriptions for medical marijuana, he said. “Only 29 percent would be more likely to oppose.”

 Here are other questions and charts:

Gravis Marketing, a nonpartisan research firm, conducted a random survey of 693 registered voters in Florida regarding medical marijuana. The poll has a margin of error of ± 4%.

The new medical marijuana amendment specifically states that negligence and malpractice by doctors are not subject to immunity under the law when recommending medical marijuana. Knowing this, are you more or less likely to support its legalization in Florida?

ImmunityThe Florida Supreme Court rejected that the 2014 medical marijuana amendment could be used for health conditions that are not debilitating, the new amendment explicitly expresses that conditions must be debilitating and rules out non-debilitating medical conditions.  

A Debilitating Medical Condition refers to a condition that a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

Knowing this are you more or less likely to support legalization of Medical Marijuana in Florida?


The following questions are for demographic purposes.
Are you Hispanic?


What is your political party affiliation?

PartyWhat race do you identify yourself as?

RaceWhich of the following best represents your religious affiliation?

Religious affiliationWhat is the highest level of education you have completed?

Education category How old are you?

Age groupWhat is your gender?

GenderNote: the polls were conducted using IVR technology and weighted by anticipate voting demographics. Gravis Marketing provides political advertising, political campaign website design, and public opinion polls