Floridians Are Pissed at State Legislators for Delaying Medical Pot Rules

In November, more than seven in ten Floridians at the polls checked yes on Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana in the Sunshine State. Considering Floridians would probably split 50-50 if asked whether they'd like a free delicious cupcake, that's an amazing result.

So state legislators shouldn't be shocked that a solid majority of the state is pretty upset with them today. Four months after that overwhelming vote, Tallahassee looks far away from passing the rules that will let dispensaries open up shop around the state. In fact, the first draft of those rules would make it more difficult than ever to get medical pot.

That's not at all what voters asked for at the ballot box, and a new poll shows they're less than pleased with how Tally is handling medical marijuana. The survey, from GOP pollsters Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, finds that a solid plurality of voters is displeased with both the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott for dawdling on medical weed.

The poll, which sampled 800 Floridians who cast ballots last year, shows that 40 percent disapprove of the Legislature's work so far (with 37 percent approving) and 41 percent unhappy with Scott, who gets just a 34 percent nod of approval.

"Independent voters disapprove of the Legislature’s and Governor’s efforts to implement the new medical marijuana laws by even larger margins than voters as a whole," pollster Tony Fabrizio writes.

Among voters who cast yes ballots on Amendment 2, 57 percent said the state was moving too slowly in approving rules for medical weed; 44 percent of voters overall agreed.

The poll was paid for by Smart Medicine for Florida, a conservative-leaning group founded by the Tea Party-affiliated Brian Hughes, a former spokesman for Rick Scott and the Republican Party of Florida. The group has tried to position itself as a "centrist" voice on medical weed.

The new poll also shows a nearly even split among voters about whether Florida should allow recreational pot. Though 60 percent of those who backed Amendment 2 say they also favor legal recreational weed, that question received approval from only 46 percent of the overall body of voters in the poll. (Around 5 percent said they were undecided.)

The pollsters also asked voters whether the state should limit the number of dispensaries allowed under Amendment 2 and found that 54 percent said yes — an interesting result somewhat undercut by the vague wording of the question, which doesn't specify how exactly the number would be limited.

As United for Care's Ben Pollara pointed out to Politico this morning, the state does have six months to write medical marijuana rules and nine months to implement them, so the process is relatively on track so far.

"The Legislature's pace has been totally reasonable and in keeping with the requirements of the amendment," Pollara tells New Times. "Some of the proposals, however, have been neither. The House's proposal seems to be written for the 29 percent who voted no rather than the 71 percent who voted to approve medical marijuana."

The poll suggests there could be political pain for the GOP-run statehouse if legislators don't stick to that timeline — or if they persist with rules that would actually make it more difficult to obtain medicinal weed.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink

Latest Stories