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Polls: Texas Favors Marijuana Policy Reform

A series of polls in recent years find that a majority of Texans favor marijuana policy reforms in Texas:

  • A statewide PPP poll from September 2013 found that more than 60% of Texans favor laws that reduce possession laws from criminal offenses to civil offenses, while 58% support medical marijuana laws in Texas.
     
  • A statewide Texas Tribune poll from February 2014 found that only 23% of Texans think marijuana should be completely illegal, leaving 77% of Texans to think it should be made legal for medical purposes, just for small possessions, or for any reason at all. Even breaking that down to Tea Party supporters, 67% think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes or in small amounts.
     
  • A statewide poll of progressive voters we conducted in October 2014 found that 71% support marijuana for medical purposes and 66% support reducing criminal penalties for small posession of marijuana.

A lot of people are unaware of this polling, which is why news reports have mistakenly suggeseted that marijuana policy reform would be considered unpopular. The Dallas Morning News editorial board praised the decision of two Republicans to file a basic medical marijuana bills, yet also wrote that doing so may put them, "vulnerable to charges of going soft on use of the marijuana plant." Texas Monthly took it a step further, opening an otherwise positive look at the issue with this ominous opening:

Here’s the easiest campaign ad in the world for someone to run: “In 2015, my opponent voted for marijuana laws that made it legal for a 9-year-old to get high.”

There's a reason we said the biggest myth supporters of marijuana policy reform face is the idea that Texas will never legalize marijuana. It makes too good of news copy, even when it's not accurate and it undermines public opinion polls that show bipartisan support for the issue. Yes, it may not be as fast as marijuana policy reform advocates want, but in a Legislature as ideologically divided as this one any bipartisan progress should be celebrated, not cautioned against.

Heather Fazio, the state political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (one of our coalition partners) said it well in a recent op-ed for the Dallas Morning News:

In Texas, we pride ourselves on being tough on crime, and we should be. Protecting citizens and facilitating justice for victims are among the most important functions of a limited government. By distracting police officers, overburdening prosecutors and misemploying correctional facilities to fight an unwinnable war on marijuana, we are setting ourselves up to fail.

It is time to replace prohibition with a more just, compassionate and efficient marijuana policy. Texans are ready. Hopefully our elected representatives are, too.

Like you, we support marijuana policy reform, and we are actively working to push this issue in the coming legislative session.