Elections

Medical pot scores high among Miami-Dade voters in new poll

A 2013 file photo shows marijuana clone plants used to grow medical marijuana in Seattle.
A 2013 file photo shows marijuana clone plants used to grow medical marijuana in Seattle. AP

Miami-Dade County voters want to legalize medical marijuana, according to a new local poll — but perhaps not by high enough numbers to score passage of a proposed Florida constitutional amendment come November.

Voters favor allowing physicians to recommend pot for medicinal purposes by 61-36 percent, with only 3 percent undecided, the poll by Bendixen & Amandi International found. That’s a fat enough super-majority to clear the state’s 60 percent amendment threshold — but just barely.

 

The narrow margin might worry proponents of the ballot measure, said Coral Gables pollster Fernand Amandi, who conducted the survey for the Miami Herald, el Nuevo Herald, WLRN and Univision 23.

“On these constitutional questions over the years, what I have found is that support needs to be in the mid-60s to feel confident that this thing is going to pass,” said Amandi, a Democrat unaffiliated with the advocacy group pushing for legalization, United for Care.

Two years ago, another Bendixen & Amandi poll suggested the popular medical-cannabis effort might be vulnerable to an opposition campaign aimed at Cuban-American conservatives in liberal-leaning Miami-Dade. Led by Drug Free America, that’s what opponents did. The amendment garnered 58 percent support statewide (and in Miami-Dade) in 2014, not enough to pass.

This time, the new poll shows broader Miami-Dade support for the measure — in a presidential year when Florida’s electorate tends to skew more liberal. The anticipated large Democratic turnout “bodes well” for legalization, Amandi said. The survey, which polled 600 registered voters in English and Spanish from May 1-4, has an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Ben Pollara, director of United for Care, said the latest poll numbers remain “a little lower” than the 66-70 percent support he’s seen elsewhere in Florida.

It’s still proof positive that medical marijuana has broad support in Dade County.

Ben Pollara of United for Care

“But it’s still proof positive that medical marijuana has broad support in Dade County — among Hispanics, among pretty much every group,” he said.

Hispanics continue to be the least likely ethnic group to back the amendment. They support it 55-41 percent, compared to 65-33 percent among African Americans and 70-26 percent among non-Hispanic whites, according to the poll. Hispanics comprise about 57 percent of Miami-Dade’s registered voters. An opposition campaign is again in the works.

Among Democrats, support for medical pot stands at 70-28 percent. Independents also favor legalization, 61-34 percent. Republicans, however, are split 48-49 percent.

In what Amandi called a “major generational break,” all age groups back legalization by 60 percent or greater except for voters 65 and older, who are divided 49-47 percent. The youngest voters ages 18-34 overwhelmingly endorse the measure, 75-25 percent.

The poll also found big differences between male and female voters. Men supported marijuana for medical use by 68-31 percent, while women did so by a smaller margin, 55-40 percent.

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