MICA sent marijuana survey results to councilors ahead of Monday vote
The Marco Island Civic Association (MICA) sent preliminary survey results about medical marijuana dispensaries to City Council ahead of the Monday vote.
The medical marijuana item is part of a 18-question survey sent to 6,000 MICA member-only addresses. As of June 12, only 1,327 people had answered the medical marijuana question, according to MICA.
"Should medical marijuana dispensaries be permitted on Marco Island?" asked item 14 of the survey.
Answering "no," 59.8 percent (793 people) and 39.6 percent (525 people) "yes."
Ruth McCann, the executive director of MICA, said that MICA's board wanted City Council members to have the information before the Monday vote.
"It was an informational email to City Council," McCann said.
MICA does not hold an official position about medical marijuana dispensaries, according to McCann. "The board has not taken a vote on that."
Councilor Jared Grifoni said last Friday in an email to Marco Eagle that it is important to put these preliminary results in perspective. "We’re talking about preliminary numbers of an ongoing/incomplete online survey with no requirement of being a registered voter on Marco Island," Grifoni said.
In 2015, MICA asked a similar question to its members but the results were virtually the opposite of the recent preliminary results sent to councilors.
"If the State of Florida legalizes medical marijuana use, should the City of Marco Island pass city codes as to where it could be sold and used on the island?" MICA asked at the time.
MICA reported in October 2015 that 63.5 percent of the returned surveys said "yes" and 35.6 percent said "no."
About 5,300 surveys were sent through email, according to McCann, and 600 through regular mail.
Grifoni also said the results are not valid.
"Whenever you conduct an internet survey of a limited demographic, especially one that isn’t of actual likely voters registered in the city and isn’t statistically valid, you are getting a snapshot that is likely to be skewed," Grifoni said.
Vice-chair Victor Rios said the data provided by MICA is insufficient to come to any conclusion.
"When the Constitutional question was put to a vote, Marco voters approved it by a margin of 60 percent in favor and State wide was 70 percent in favor," Rios said about the 2016 Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative referendum.
Councilor Sam Young said that the preliminary MICA results do not mean anything to him. "I deal in facts and not hypotheticals," Young said. "Marco and state voters passed it (the 2016 referendum) overwhelmingly."
"I support the will of the voters," Young said before the Monday vote.
On the other hand, councilor Charlette Roman said Sunday in an email to Marco Eagle that the MICA preliminary results could influence her vote on the medical marijuana dispensary resolution. "The MICA survey is one of the tools the council has had over the years to check the pulse of the community," Roman said.
On Monday, Roman voted in favor of the resolution, reaffirming that medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed in Marco.
The MICA survey does not change the way chairperson Erik Brechnitz looks at the medical marijuana dispensary issue, Brechnitz said.
"As I have suggested [...], I am not opposed to medical marijuana dispensaries per se if I could be assured that recreational marijuana would not be permitted to follow," Brechnitz said.
MICA members have until Friday to complete and return the surveys.