Pubdate: Tue, 07 Oct 2014
Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2014 Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Author: Michael Pollick


With polls close on the issue of medical marijuana, the Orlando 
attorney who got Amendment 2 on the November ballot traveled to the 
University of South Florida's campus here Tuesday to urge young 
people to make their voices heard.

Meanwhile, USF researchers conducted a straw poll on campus to gauge 
how college-age voters are leaning on candidates and issues alike.

While there appeared to be little interest in the Rick Scott-Charlie 
Crist race for governor, the 1,100 students and faculty members 
casting ballots showed a solid 70 percent support for medicinal use 
of marijuana.

"I believe as a future physician that there should be all options 
available to people that are suffering," said Zachary Joerin, a 
27-year-old USF senior majoring in biomedical science who plans to 
become a doctor.

"A lot of the prescription pain medicines have a lot of side effects 
that are negative," he added. "From what research there is right now, 
it seems like there are less side effects from marijuana."

Because the marijuana measure would amend Florida's constitution, a 
60 percent vote in favor will be required for passage.

Orlando attorney John Morgan, who heads the cannabis advocacy group 
United For Care, said he thinks a heavy turnout by young voters could 
help propel the medical marijuana amendment to victory.

State estimates contend medical marijuana could become an $800 
million industry in the state, and treat chronic symptoms experienced 
by hundreds of thousands of Floridians.

"I believe there is a silent majority of youth out there, 18-plus, 
who are smart, who get it, and for a range of issues, looked at 
politics and are turned off," Morgan said. "If young people vote in 
record numbers, we will win."

Those polled Tuesday appeared to be disillusioned by both major 
political parties.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist received 49 percent 
of the straw poll votes; incumbent Republican Rick Scott got 29 percent.

Fourteen percent voted for "other."

On medical marijuana, only 19 percent rejected the idea. Eleven 
percent, however, checked a box that stated "I don't know enough about it yet."

"Throughout the survey, you can see the disaffection with the two 
major parties," political science professor Susan MacManus told the 

"And it just confirms what political scientists know," MacManus 
added. "Young people do not like negative ads that do not talk about issues."

MacManus conducts the straw poll at USF during each election cycle. 
In all, five polling stations were spread out at the campus.

The 70 percent "Yes" vote for marijuana is representative of the 
sentiment at many college campuses - and a primary reason why the 
Morgan-backed United For Care is courting young voters.

Based on six statewide polls conducted last month, 57.1 percent said 
they favor the marijuana measure, while just under 30 percent said 
they oppose it. A significant 12.8 percent said they were undecided, 
according to the News-Press of Fort Myers.

The newspaper noted advocates need only convince about one in four 
undecideds to clear the 60 percent threshold.

While students voted outside, Morgan stumped in the Marshall Student 
Center. "I decided not only was I going to be the money part of this, 
but I was going to go around and get all you guys to vote," Morgan 
told a group of 60 to 80 students.

A gaggle of "Yes on 2" supporters greeted Morgan's colorfully painted 
campaign bus as it rolled up to the student center.

The USF stop was the second in which Morgan has participated in as many days.

On Monday, the attorney and his brother, a quadriplegic who suffered 
great pain before turning to medical marijuana, appeared at the 
University of Central Florida, in Orlando.

Later today, Morgan is to travel to Florida Atlantic University, in 
Boca Raton, followed by Florida International University on Thursday.

USF sophomore Courtney Ferreria, 18, who recently registered to vote, 
intends to vote for Amendment 2.

Her father has endured progressively worsening back pain that has 
kept him from working.

He has chosen to combat the pain with marijuana rather than 
prescription pain pills.

"I've seen it work on my father," Ferreria said.

"It's not like prescription pills. It doesn't make him someone he's not."

Opponents of the amendment have focused their fight on television ads.

In one, Vote No on 2 attacks the idea that "caregivers" could come 
from the ranks of illicit drug dealers, because of the vagueness of 
the ballot measure's language.

Morgan believes opponents are hoping for a low turnout - especially 
among college-age voters.

"Our opponents," Morgan said, "are counting on young people not to vote."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom