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Charlie Crist: Medical Marijuana 'An Issue Of Compassion'

Charlie Crist

A recently released Quinnipiac poll shows Charlie Crist holding a seven point lead over incumbent Gov. Rick Scott in Florida's 2014 gubernatorial race.

At the same time, Crist’s party switch from Republican to Democrat, and his support of an increasingly unpopular President Obama and his health care law, could also impact the race.

Governor Scott is expected to raise a record setting $100 million in his reelection bid.

Meanwhile, Florida Democrats are ponying up for Crist; his campaign passed the $1 million dollar mark over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Charlie Crist joined Melissa Ross to talk about the race and take listener calls, including one regarding his position on medical marijuana.

"This is an issue of compassion," Crist said when asked how he felt about the medical marijuana initiative that could come before state voters at the same time he is seeking election.

"You have people who feel that if there are people who are suffering through pain or lack of appetite, and you have a real doctor who prescribes medical marijuana, then I don't know why you would really be opposed to it, and so I'm not opposed to it," he said, citing recent poll number showing over 80 percent of state residents in support of the measure.

"I think it's fine," he said, adding that he supports the approval of using the drug for medical treatment only as prescribed by a physician.

Asked how he felt about campaigning by Governor Rick Scott on a record of job growth, Crist said he was glad that the state seemed to experiencing some degree of economic recovery, but thinks it could be better.

"I think we can be more innovative in our thinking on job growth," he said, citing increased support for renewable energy and public universities as two areas that could spur job creation.

When asked about leaving the Republican Party, Crist said he had to, to remain true to his personal values.

"The Republican party leadership was on a path, and unfortunately I think it still is, where it's perceived at least as being anti-women, anti-minority, anti-immigrant, anti-public education, the list goes on and on," he said.

"I'm the same guy I always was, but as I said at the convention last September, I didn't leave the Republican Party, it left me."

Crist was on the line from New York where he was recording the audio version of a new book he has coming out in February titled The Party's Over.

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.