For much of the past year, it seemed almost inevitable that medical marijuana would become legal in Florida. Polls showed that more than 80 percent of Floridians would support a constitutional amendment that's on the ballot this November legalizing medicinal weed.
So it was something of a shocker last week when a Tampa Bay Times poll indicated that medical marijuana will fail to get the 60 percent of the vote required to get on the ballot. It had previously polled at more than 9-to-1.
Yesterday, Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, the main organization fighting for legalization, insisted that "we're still winning" and said internal polls still indicated the amendment would get more than the 60 percent needed to pass.
From a mass email:
In public polls there's literally a 19% swing between the highest and lowest.
Here's what I know: Our own internal data currently puts us above the 60% we need to win.
We knew, when a billionaire got into the race and dumped millions on the No on 2 side, that we would take a hit -- and we did. But as it turns out -- his money didn't go as far as they thought it would. We're still winning.
However, he conceded that it would be a close race.
Why the change in opinion? For one, people who oppose medical marijuana have, however late in the game, bankrolled a $3.2 million opposition to the amendment.
As a history professor at Broward College, I can tell you one reason to vote for Amendment 2 -- a reason that hasn't really been pushed in the political messaging so far: The core and longstanding problem with the drug war is that it is, in effect, a subsidy to the major drug dealers both at home and abroad. Any opposition to legalization is in effect a way to support cartels and provide price support for the various substances. Without a doubt, many of the high class of these dealers have most likely established Joseph Kennedy-level fortunes that have safely been laundered into more legitimate forms of property, money, and power.
Alcohol prohibition ended after roughly 13 years, with the game of musical chairs ending only after smugglers had established massive fortunes and laundered their illicit gains into legitimate power. But unlike alcohol prohibition, the drug war has gone on for more than 40 years now, with the accumulation of power having three times as much time to fester than its counterpart in alcohol prohibition.