Weed The People: Two-Thirds Of Florida Voters Back Amendment

Nugs and joints weed
Photo: Shutterstock

It appears Sunshine State voters are still high on the prospect of legalizing recreational weed.

A new poll from the University of North Florida found two-thirds of registered voters would back a state constitutional amendment allowing adults to purchase and possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use — without a medical usage license.

While that result still represents strong interest in decriminalizing the popular drug, the level of support shown was slightly lower this time than in prior surveys the school conducted.

Pollsters from the UNF Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) questioned 716 residents sourced from the Florida voter file Nov. 6-26 and weighted data based on demographics and geographical strata to match the state’s voter population.

The poll had a 4.37-precentage-point margin of error.

Its finding: 67% percent of respondents said they would vote yes for a proposed constitutional amendment permitting people 21 and older to buy marijuana without a license. Twenty-eight percent indicated they were against such a change, and 5% either refused to answer the question or said they weren’t sure.

PORL posed a similar question to voters in Spring 2022 and 2023. In the first poll, 76% of those surveyed said they would support recreational marijuana. Just a year later, the number fell to 70%.

As for why the level of support is dropping, PORL faculty director and political science professor Michael Binder attributed it to the wording of the question, rather than waning approval.

“Unlike previous surveys when we simply asked if folks support or oppose legalization of recreational marijuana, this time we gave respondents the specifics of the proposed amendment,” he said in a statement. “Yet again, it looks like (the amendment) has a good chance of passing, if it makes it through the courts, and that is a very big ‘if.’”

Other details about the amendment the poll shared this time included that it would allow state-licensed entities to cultivate and sell weed products and accessories. It also made clear that the new rules would only apply to Florida law and would not change or immunize violations of federal law.

Across every category PORL divided answers into, a majority of respondents expressed positivity about decriminalization. That included 77% of Democrats, 53% of Republicans and 58% of voters with no party affiliation.

Fifty-five percent of men and 68% of women backed the change. So did 61% of voters without college degrees and 64% with them.

Broken down by race, 65% of Black and White respondents agreed marijuana should be legalized through the amendment, compared to 52% of Hispanics.

Opinions remained positive but varied between generations, though not necessarily how some might have predicted.

Voters 18-24 were most supportive, with 77% of respondents saying they wanted legal weed. But the second-most positive group were voters 55-64, of whom 71% said they’d vote yes on the amendment.

Sixty-three percent of voters aged 25-34 said the same, followed by 60% of voters 45-54, 57% of voters 35-44 and 56% of voters 65 and older, who accounted for the largest share of Floridians surveyed.

Earlier this month, the Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the initiative to allow the weed amendment — which would limit purchases to three ounces of marijuana and not include provisions for at-home growth — on the 2024 ballot.

The measure, sponsored by the group Safe & Smart Florida, has attracted more than 1 million valid signatures, enough to get it onto the ballot; but Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a petition in August to block it.

Moody has argued the measure, among other things, contains “misleading” language that doesn’t make clear how the proposed state allowance would square with the federal prohibition. She’s also expressed concern over regulation and how decriminalization will enrich cannabis giant Trulieve, which has invested more than $39 million in the Safe & Smart Florida political committee leading the legalization initiative.