Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Fails, Voter Support For Legalized Pot Falls Apart

Florida has failed to pass a medical marijuana legalization initiative that would have allowed residents of the Sunshine State to get pot to treat a number of ailments.

Voters took to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots for Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in the state. Though the measure once enjoyed massive support -- a poll in July found that 88 percent of the state was in favor of legalizing medical cannabis and another poll in October found 67 percent support -- the margin fell to close to 60 percent as voters took to the polls.

The Florida medical marijuana legalization initiative needed at least 60 percent of voters in order to pass. With two-thirds of the state reporting support for the medical marijuana was at 57 percent, and by 9:30 p.m. news outlets in Florida were reporting that it would be rejected.

There were other issues at play with the Florida medical marijuana legislation. Political experts said Democrats hoped the issue would resonate with their voters, helping Charlie Crist in his bid to re-take the governor's mansion.

"Democrats in Florida privately hope that having a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot can bring out a set of voters who aren't otherwise likely to vote in a midterm election," said Reid Wilson, a Washington Post reporter who closely follows state politics. "It's very political calculation and one that frankly Charlie Crist's allies have put a lot of money into."

Opponents of the measure also took action, spending $3.9 million for television ads opposing the measure. Many believe the aggressive campaign helped to erode support for medical marijuana in Florida.

"The campaign against [the amendment] has been pretty aggressive and I think pretty effective based on the polls so there are a lot of people who are now actually kind of mobilizing to vote against medical marijuana initiative, because they think it's just problematic, too many loopholes, too easy for people to basically be selling marijuana out in the open," said Adam Smith, the political editor of the Tampa Bay Times. "So there's at least some speculation that rather than driving young people who are inclined to vote for it to the polls, it's going to motivate people who are against it to turn out which could help Rick Scott."

While the Florida medical marijuana legalization failed, a number of other states have ballot initiatives to loosen restrictions on pot, including measures in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., to legalize recreational use of the drug.