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Florida to Vote on Marijuana Legalization: 70% of Republicans and 87% of Democrats Support

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First Posted: Jan 28, 2014 01:34 PM EST
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Orlando attorney John Morgan pumped $3 million into the ballot effort that collected 1.1 million signatures (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

In November, Florida voters will cast their votes on a ballot measure to legalize marijuana for medicinal use. The ballot was approved by Florida's Supreme Court on Monday and is highly popular with voters across the state, with 70 percent of registered Republicans, 87 percent of Democrats and 88 percent of Independents in favor of medical marijuana.

The Republican Governor Rick Scott argued the wording was too vague and would allow anyone to buy marijuana but was unsuccessful in blocking the ballot initiative as the state Supreme Court approved it amid his opposition.

His opposition to the ballot initiative might hurt him come election time considering how widely popular the bill is among all political viewpoints within the state, including Republicans. If voters, especially young ones, are energized by topic leading to a Democratic victory in Florida's midterm election, it could change the balance of power for the 2016 presidential race where Florida is the only gubernatorial election in a big swing state.

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The Governor Rick Scott is already trailing in polls to his main challenger, the former governor Charlie Crist, who is in favor of legalization.

Some Republicans have decided the party should embrace what is seen as an inevitable shift in the country's politics. One such person is political consultant Rick Wilson, who recently said that the party should "get out in front" of a rapidly evolving change in public attitudes toward the drug. "Americans have sort of made up their minds about a certain amount of marijuana in society," he said, alluding to the recent passage of similar legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington.

Florida's legalization movement is anchored by people who believe in the plant's ability to help those who are sick. Some Republican state legislators back a certain strain believed to reduce seizures in children with epilepsy. "If they refuse, it is because of a willful disregard for the weakest of their constituents. And I would not want someone like that in public office," said one parent who has an affected child.

Colorado became the first state with legalized recreational marijuana and is one of 20 states across the country that allows medical marijuana.

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