Loses Despite Clear Majority Support, Thanks to Unique Florida Law Requiring 60% for Ballot Initiatives and $5 Million Opposition Campaign
National Implications: Majority Support Sends Strong Message, Regardless of 60% Florida Requirement
Today, a large majority of voters in Florida approved Amendment 2, a ballot initiative that makes Florida, with its huge population and bellwether status in American politics, the very first state in the South to see a majority vote in favor of a medical marijuana law.
“A tremendous majority of Floridians voted to legalize marijuana for medical purposes today – and that’s what really matters notwithstanding the fact that the initiative will not be implemented,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Today’s vote is a confirmation of medical marijuana's broad support across the political spectrum and sends a powerful message not just to Florida legislators but also throughout the South and even nationally.”
Florida is the only state that requires 60% to pass a ballot initiative. Casino owner Sheldon Adelson contributed $5 million dollars to stop Amendment 2, the largest contribution ever by a single donor to oppose a drug policy initiative. Most of the $5 million was spent on inaccurate TV ads that eroded what had been consistently strong support. Every poll until the past month had shown between 63-85% support for the initiative among Florida voters.
DPA’s lobbying arm, Drug Policy Action, supported this initiative with assistance on the drafting, as well as financial and other support for the campaign.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing the use of marijuana for qualifying patients under state law. Since the 1990s, national polls have consistently shown public support for medical marijuana ranging from 70 to 80 percent.