Poll: Support For Marijuana Legalization Soars In Texas

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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Support for marijuana legalization has enjoyed a massive boost in one the country’s most conservative states.

According to a Texas Lyceum Poll, 46 percent of Texans support legalizing cannabis – a substantial increase from just a third four years ago. Public opinion in the state is still marginally opposed to a more relaxed policy on pot, with 50 percent against full legalization.

But even among those who weren’t in favor of Colorado-style medical and recreational policy, 57 percent supported lighter punishments and effective decriminalization for those caught with under an ounce of pot, compared to 39 percent who favored the status quo.

Taking into account those who favored legalization and decriminalization, just 19.5 percent of adult Texans wanted to retain full prohibition, according to the poll’s executive summary.

Heather Fazio, Texas Political Director  of the Marijuana Policy Project told The Daily Caller News Foundation:

The new opinion poll conducted by The Texas Lyceum indicates, again, that voters are ready for marijuana law reform. With such a small fraction of Texans supporting the status quo, it’s as clear as can be that candidates running for state office must take a favorable stand on reforming marijuana laws.

Democrats were far more likely to support legalization than Republicans, with 54 percent in favor and 42 percent against. Republicans opposed reforming marijuana laws by 62 percent to 37 percent.

As in most states, the young are more agreeable to legalization than the old, with two-thirds of 18-29-year-olds supporting legalization.

Speaking to the Dallas Morning News, professor Darren Shaw who worked on the poll said, “we continue to be disabused of the notion that Texans are all one thing or the other.

“There certainly is a conservative reservoir of opinion, but that plays out in complex ways depending upon the particular issue.”

Despite the sharp shift in public opinion and marijuana legalization spreading across the country, Texan lawmakers appear committed prohibition. A measure that would have replaced jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana to a fine was rejected.

Legislators also ruled out a study on whether marijuana could be an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. But pro-legalization campaigners are unlikely to be deterred by hostility from the legislature. (RELATED: Texas State Rep Wants To Remove Absolutely All Prohibitions On Marijuana)

“We have work to do in Texas, but voters are ready for reform and we see an opportunity to repeal marijuana prohibition within the next few meetings of the legislature,” Fazio told TheDCNF. In total, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.

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Guy Bentley