U.S. Markets closed

Florida voters set to legalize medical marijuana: survey

Some 77 percent of likely voters in Florida have said they will cast ballots in favor of Amendment 2 -- which would change the state's constitution to legalize cannabis for medicinal use (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Miami (AFP) - Voters in the US state of Florida appear overwhelmingly inclined to legalize medical marijuana in a referendum November 8, a new poll out Tuesday shows.

Some 77 percent of likely voters in the southeastern state have said they will cast ballots in favor of Amendment 2 -- which would change the state's constitution to legalize cannabis for medicinal use -- according to the survey conducted by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory (PORL) at the University of North Florida.

"Not only are Democrats wildly supportive, but even Republicans are above the 60 percent threshold required for passage," said the laboratory's faculty director Michael Binder. He added that the strongest support was among likely voters age 34 and under, but many older than 65 also favor the amendment.

The poll -- which surveyed some 700 likely voters between September 27 and October 4 -- found that about 18 percent of Floridians have said they will vote against legalization, with four percent still undecided.

In 2014 the institution found that 67 percent of Florida voters approved of the measure, after conducting a similar survey during the same time frame.

Yet, when it came time to vote Floridians nevertheless decided against medical marijuana, falling nearly three percent shy of the 60 percent required for legalization.

"It's a great feeling to know we're ten points ahead of where we were this time last campaign," Bianca Garza of United for Care, a pro-medical marijuana organization, told AFP.

"However positive it feels, we are not taking the numbers for granted," Garza said. "The race isn't over, we are continuing to fight."

At least 10 Florida newspapers have endorsed medical marijuana legalization -- most recently the Panama City News Herald called Amendment 2 "a compassionate, common-sense measure."

"Florida residents should have the same ability to avoid the risks of addiction and overdose that come with legal painkillers, and instead use medical marijuana to treat chronic pain, nausea and other conditions that stem from debilitating disease," the paper's editorial board wrote.

Half of America's 50 states, as well as the capital city Washington, have approved cannabis for medical use, with a handful of states expanding legalization to include the drug's recreational use.