Medical Marijuana Initiative Falling Short in Florida


No on 2

As expected, it looks like Amendment 2, which would have made Florida the first Southern state to approve medical use of marijuana, is falling short of the 60 percent support it needs to pass. With 69 percent of precincts reporting, the results are 57 percent in favor and 43 percent against. John Morgan, leader of the Amendment 2 campaign, said he would try again in 2016 if the vote was close to the 60 percent threshold for constitutional amendments.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia recognize marijuana as a medicine, with rules ranging from strict (e.g., New Jersey) to loose (e.g., California). Amendment 2 would have moved Florida toward the California end of that range, allowing marijuana use by patients suffering from nine specific conditions, plus "other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient." 

Support for Amendment 2 plummeted between July, when a Quinnipiac University poll found that 88 percent of voters favored the measure, and October, when a Gravis Marketing poll found that just 50 percent did. Opponents, aided by $5 million in donations from Republican casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, argued that the regime established by the initiative would be tantamount to general legalization, which they said would lead to horrors such as date rape facilitated by pot cookies. 

Update: With 82 percent of precincts reporting and the breakdown unchanged, A.P. is calling the race. Judging from NBC's exit poll numbers, the initiative would have passed if 1) only men had voted, 2) only Democrats had voted, 3) only independents had voted, 4) only blacks had voted, 5) only Latinos had voted, or 6) only people younger than 65 had voted. Given Florida's demographics, that last point was probably the most crucial. Surveys generally find that both experience with marijuana and openness to marijuana reform decline with age. Apparently the medical angle was not enough to win even a majority of retirees, let alone 60 percent. NBC puts support for Amendment 2 in that age group at just 38 percent.

[Thanks to Marc Sandhaus for the exit poll link.]