Medical Marijuana Provision Among the Suggested Measures

SAINT LEO, FL – Four measures that will appear on the ballot for Florida voters on November 8 appear poised for approval, including a measure to allow the use of medical marijuana when prescribed by a doctor, according to a September survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute (

For a ballot measure to pass, at least 60 percent of voters must support it. In these cases, support has grown over the course of multiple Saint Leo polls. The most recent survey was conducted online from September 10 to 16, 2016, with 502 respondents, including 475 who said they are likely voters. The margin of error for responses reported here is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

All measures that appear on voter ballots in Florida do so through one of two possible mechanisms: enough citizens sign a petition, or the Florida Legislature refers a matter to the broad electorate.

Amendments 1 and 2, concerning solar power and medical marijuana, respectively, came about through petitions. The amendment dealing with about property tax treatment for disabled first responders, Amendment 3, and Amendment 5, the tax relief measure for some senior citizens, were referred by the state Legislature.

All the measures seems to have gained support or at least held steady among likely voters in recent months, as the table illustrates. (The survey results from a broader base of Florida respondents, including those who won’t vote, were statistically the same as those from the likely voters.)


Florida Ballot Measures June 2016 support – likely voters August 2016 support – likely voters September 2016 support – likely voters
Grants Florida residents the right to own or lease equipment that produces solar energy for personal use – Amendment 1 77.3% 81.4% 84.0%
Grants the right to use marijuana for the treatment of certain ailments when recommended by a physician – Amendment 2 65.1% 67.8% 68.8%
Provides property tax exemptions for first responders disabled in the line of duty – Amendment 3 71.5% 76.7% 76.8%
Locks home values in place for senior citizens eligible for property tax breaks – Amendment 5 65.8% 70.7% 77.1%


Although all the amendments appear popular, there have been detractors with the first two.

Amendment 1 wording could actually impair the development of an alternative market for the production and sale of energy, opponents contend, adding that they consider the wording misleading. The first part of the measure describes an electricity consumer’s right to own or lease solar equipment—solar panels on homes­—and generate power for their own use. As this is a right Floridians already have under state laws and rules, however, it does not need to be incorporated into the Florida State Constitution, skeptics have said.

Beyond ownership or possession of a panel, there are other steps to establishing a functioning solar energy market that critics say Amendment 1 could actually thwart. The critics point to the second half of Amendment 1. The second sentence reads: “State and local governments shall retain their abilities to protect consumer rights and public health, safety and welfare, and to ensure that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.”

If such terms are actually applied to the market, critics say, that would translate into solar customers being charged higher costs, making traditionally generated electricity comparatively less expensive to buy. That would stifle the broad adoption of solar power, they contend, to the benefit of traditional utilities. Among the opponents are people who previously and unsuccessfully pushed for an amendment that would have allowed people to sell excess electricity generated by solar power to their neighbors.

Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute and a political science instructor at the university, said: “Despite the lack of knowledge about what the amendment would actually do, it looks poised for success. Support for the amendment continues to climb. The utility companies have spent the money to wage a very successful campaign presenting the issue to the public, while the pro alternative-energy groups have had a much more difficult time marshaling the opposition.”

Amendment 2 is more straightforward, granting the right to use marijuana for treatment of illnesses when prescribed by a doctor. Proponents have said this is a common sense solution to relieve suffering. Opponents worry about legalizing a drug that is still prohibited under federal law. Additionally, they are concerned about the regulation required to carry out the practical dispensing of the drug.

“It appears as though medical marijuana supporters will get the victory they were denied by voters in 2014,” Orlando said. “The higher the turnout among young voters, the better the chance that this amendment passes.”

Amendments 3 and 5 were referred by the Florida Legislature and deal with property tax relief ideas for certain groups.

In the case of Amendment 3, Florida would be extending a benefit. There is currently a tax relief measure that helps the surviving survivors of deceased first responders. But that measure did not take into consideration first responders who were disabled in the line of duty, so this amendment helps that group, too.

Amendment 5, as written, could be applied by counties and municipalities to help lower-income, longtime resident senior citizens afford the taxes on their homes.

“These two amendments seemed poised for success,” Orlando commented, “with older voters particularly supportive of Amendment 5, as we would expect.”

Media contacts: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications by email at or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text) or Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text)

More About Our Research

METHODOLOGY: This survey was conducted using an online survey instrument from September 10 – September 16, 2016. It was conducted at the same time that the polling institute fielded a broader, national poll on matters including the presidential election and other matters. The Florida poll was conducted in parallel, focusing on state and national electoral matters. The statewide survey yielded 502 responses, with an associated margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. Some results were calculated focusing on the likely voter population, who numbered 475. The same margin of error applies to the tabulation of those responses.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever our students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. We welcome people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourage learners of all generations. We are committed to providing educational opportunities to our nation’s armed forces, our veterans, and their families. We are regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and we guide all our students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

We remain the faithful stewards of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where our founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 15,000 students, we have expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintain a physical presence in seven states. We provide highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 82,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.