Poll shows Florida voters high on recreational marijuana, school choice

But there's no love for permitless carry, partisan school boards or a university overhaul.

A new poll shows Florida voters high on recreational marijuana and universal school choice.

Days after the start of the Legislative Session, the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab released survey results on the opinion of registered voters on a variety of topics.

The findings could fire up supporters of a proposed change to Florida’s constitution to legalize adult personal use of marijuana. About 70% of voters said they would support such a measure, while just 29% feel harsh on the proposal.

That compares to 76% who backed the proposal when UNF polled voters last spring and is much higher than the 64% who favored legalizing recreational weed in late 2019.

The level of support could be consequential as Florida requires 60% of voters to support an amendment at the ballot box in order to amend the state constitution.

“Efforts to put recreational marijuana in front of voters in 2024 are in the beginning stages, but support for it is high across the political spectrum,” said Dr. Michael Binder, Research Lab faculty director. “If it makes it onto the ballot next year, and that’s a big ‘if,’ it has a good chance of reaching the 60% supermajority needed to pass.”

Voters also weighed in on matters state lawmakers expect to take up in the coming weeks. While members of the state Senate debate the cost of the school vouchers measure, voters seem to favor the plan regardless of a potentially high price.

Asked whether they support all K-12 students becoming eligible for public funds that cover private school tuition, about 53% voiced support and 39% expressed some level of opposition. That was after pollsters gave respondents an estimate of $2.5 billion as the cost of such an expansion, which is much more than House estimates but also more than $1 billion less than some outside analysts expect such a program would cost.

Of note, 50% of Democrats support the plan, closely aligning with the 52% support found among Republicans. But it’s voters unaffiliated with either party who show the most enthusiasm, with 58% supporting the voucher expansion and 33% strongly supporting it.

Pollsters also asked about a controversial proposal to make School Board seats into partisan positions, something that also would require amending the state constitution. But here, the 60% threshold seems a far-off target. About 65% of voters oppose such a change, and just 26% favor the move.

An overhaul of Florida’s higher education found scant support from the public. With such proposals presented as the elimination of critical race theory and an end to diversity, equity and inclusion programs, 61% of voters say lawmakers should nix the plans, and only 35% embrace the change.

But there was a notably partisan split, with a majority of Republicans favoring the move.

“Despite elevated support among Republicans, many voters we spoke to are not so thrilled about some of DeSantis’s most recent proposals in his war on ‘woke’ culture, this time targeting Florida’s public colleges and universities with HB 999 and SB 266,” stated Binder. “A notable chunk of Republicans (38%) don’t like the restrictions, but the 56% in support reflects the likely outcome in Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature.”

However, there’s opposition across the board to another conservative plan moving through the Legislature with Republican support. About 77% of voters oppose permitless carry of firearms. That number is high in part thanks to opposition from 93% of Democrats, but 62% of Republicans also want those with concealed weapons to obtain permits with the state.

“Not only is there bipartisan opposition to this ‘constitutional carry’ bill, but folks seem to feel passionately about it with the majority (67%) saying they strongly oppose the bill,” Binder said. “Even among Republicans, most people are against carrying weapons without a permit.”

Asked to prioritize what the Legislature should be working on, a full 25% of voters listed affordable housing as Florida’s biggest problem. Economic issues came in second place, ranking as the top concern of 17% of voters, while 12% listed education, 10% said immigration, and 7% care most about gun policy.

The poll results included responses from 1,452 registered voters surveyed between Feb. 25 and March 7. The margin of error is +/- 2.57%.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Earl Pitts American

    March 9, 2023 at 7:14 am

    Good morning America and all Senators in the Florida Legislature,
    The “poll” above is pure fiction and does NOT reflect the mandate of your various voters which trusted you, voted for you, and sent you to Tallahassee to represent them.
    Question: Do you want to get re-elected or do you want to vote according to a bogus “poll” and have your voters tar and feather you then run you out of the district on a rail?
    Oh my bad, your voters can no longer legally do that, but you wont get elected next time if you fail to vote the way they elected you to vote.
    Right now The Florida House is solid in the respect that they will vote the mandates of their constituants.
    Its you Florida Senators that are most likely to sabatoge your voter’s mandate and many of you lilly livered weak in the knees Florida Senators are looking for this “fake poll” to use as an excuse to back stab your voters who sent you to Tallahassee. Be strong Florida Senators and vote the will of your constituants!
    Thank you American Florida Senators
    Earl Pitts American

    • JD

      March 9, 2023 at 7:40 am

      Constituants = Constituents

      Sabatoge = Sabotage

      Lilly = lily

    • Rob Desantos

      March 10, 2023 at 2:41 pm

      Ok Groomer

  • JD

    March 9, 2023 at 7:35 am

    Good morning, United States of America and all Senators in the Florida Legislature,

    Ignore Mr. Pitts anecdotal rhetoric. There is a very large number of Floridians that are becoming very concerned with the exact subjects and bills addressed in the above poll. Pay attention to its compass pointing, or not at your own political peril.

    If you want to be reelected, you should listen to all your constituents, and remember the divide between registered Republicans and Democrats is still damn close, and it is the NPA’s and Independents that put your elections over the finish lines.
    So do well to your political career and listen to the many voices echoed in this poll instead of the Mr. Pitt’s cricket of a diatribe.

    We the people are getting pissed off. Your voting on these matters will have election consequences.

    Thank you American Florida Senators,

    The rest of us.

    • Kenneth C Kovar

      March 10, 2023 at 6:20 pm

      Amen to that!

  • Earl Pitts American

    March 9, 2023 at 8:41 am

    Good morning again Florida Senators,
    If my Lilly livered 10th grade English teacher, and personal spell checker, Miss Joyce Denise Grundy knows about your leftist leaning proclivities than Everybody knows you Senators have the potential to stab Florida in the back.
    Vote the way your district has mandated by electing you!!
    BTW JD I intentionally mis-spelled lily (above) to further activate your OCD.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts American

    • JD

      March 9, 2023 at 10:03 am

      Good morning again Florida Senators,

      Please vote for the good of all Floridians and stop pandering to the lowest common “Red Meat” denominator to things that were not actually happening.

      And Mr. Pitts, it is not my OCD you activated, with your misspellings, but rather it lessens your own public credibility in understand the matters you speak about.

      Thank you United States of America

      The Rest of Us

    • Mother Superior Slapshot, Bishop Hedman Academy

      March 12, 2023 at 1:33 pm

      My goodness, Mister Earl Pitts American, you have crossed a line by calling your English teacher “Lilly livered.” A woman who only tried to help you, and for whom you now bear a grudge because she corrected your spelling. Mister Earl Pitts American, you have given yourself a big name and yet you behave like a very little man. You sign off with “Thank you America,” as if the country is listening to you. It’s not. It’s listening to another little man from Florida right now, trying to decide if he merits any further listening. But a few of us here did indeed listen to you (read your comments), and it is clear that you merit no more of our time, bless your heart.

      • Earl Pitts American

        March 14, 2023 at 1:20 pm

        Good afternoon Mom,
        Thank you for your love and support over the years. I’ve always been your favoriate out of all the kids at Headman Acadamey.
        With you by my side together we will exorcise the liberal tendancies out of our Great Country.
        Thanks again my beloved Mom, Ms. Earline Pitts” a great American!
        Your loving son, Earl Pitts American

  • JB

    March 9, 2023 at 9:55 pm

    Pot for recreational use in Florida must never become legal. Americas youth are already suffering mental health disorders, an identity crises, and gender brainwashing. Pot is proven to damage the human brain. Pot legization increases the motor vehicle and industrial accident rates. Pot use is damaging to the lungs.

    The cost to society from Pot use is huge. Your automobile taxes will increase from stoners causing car crashes, crime will increase as the Cartels enter the market, and public health costs will grow treating the Pot addicted and diseased.

    • JD

      March 10, 2023 at 5:42 am

      Do you apply that same set of logic and rethoric to alcohol?

      Please do, because it’s far far worse from booze currently.

      We should ban recreational alcohol first.

      • JD

        March 10, 2023 at 5:43 am


    • Mr. Haney

      March 13, 2023 at 8:45 am

      Yet more ignorance. Not really much for freedom are you?

    • Cheech

      March 13, 2023 at 8:55 am

      Smoke a spliff and chill the F out.

    • Dr. Franklin Waters

      March 20, 2023 at 10:02 am

      You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

  • Brandon

    March 11, 2023 at 7:26 pm

    Yawn. Only Florida Politics would push a bogus poll.

  • joey

    March 19, 2023 at 2:29 pm

    They cant fix the insurance crisis and you talk about big issues. Lol.

  • PeterH

    March 21, 2023 at 1:21 am

    Floridians supporting universal school choice have no idea that private schools are full AND they can’t afford to place their children in a private school even if a vacancy exist!

Comments are closed.


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