Majority of Texans Now Support Legalizing Pot for Adult Use

Support among Texans shifted in favor of adult-use cannabis legalization.

A statewide poll in Texas revealed that six out of 10 adults support legalizing cannabis in the state—the first time the poll has shown a solid majority. The issue of cannabis is gaining increasing bipartisan support, gaining support from states that typically vote blue or red.

According to results from the 18th annual Texas Lyceum Poll, 60% of adult Texans say they support adult-use cannabis—representing a 14% jump from the last time the survey asked about marijuana in 2015.

“Overall, 60% of Texas adults say that they support legalizing the use of marijuana in Texas, a 14 point increase since the question was last asked in 2015, when a majority of voters (50%) expressed opposition. Asked about expanding legal casino gambling in Texas, 57% of Texans said they would be supportive of expanded casino gambling, while 28% said they would be opposed.”

The Dallas Morning News reports that only older adults, Republicans, and self-identified conservatives were divided on support for adult-use cannabis. Among Texans over the age of 65 and Republicans, 49% said they support legalization, and among those who identified as conservative, 46% were in support, and 31% of those polled said they oppose cannabis legislation.

The questions weren’t always clear as to why people oppose legalizing cannabis. For instance, some simply want to decriminalize it instead: Among those who oppose legalization, 42% said that they would support decriminalizing possession of small amounts to a citation and fine. The poll also asked about numerous other topics such as politics, religion, housing, and space exploration. Gambling is also gaining support in Texas, according to the Texas Lyceum Poll.

In November of this year, the Texas Lyceum will hold a conference on South Padre Island entitled, “Win, Lose or Draw: The Future of Marijuana and Gambling in the Lone Star State.”

The state’s unique politics come into play when it comes to cannabis. Texans have voted Republican in every general election since 1976.  Some analysts believe that having a Bush on the ticket in every election from 1980 through 2004 (except 1996) helped cement Texas as a “reliably red state.” In 2020 however, that lead waned, and Donald Trump won the state by 6.5% over Joe Biden, the narrowest margin since 1996. But the demographics in Texas are changing quickly.

Patients who are eligible can access low-level THC cannabis under the state’s compassionate use program, established in 2015. But it only allows certain physicians to prescribe low-THC products to patients with seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions. The Texas Legislature expanded the program’s eligibility to include patients with all forms of PTSD and cancer in 2021.

Texas Cities Decriminalize

Decriminalization attempts at the city level have faced opposition from state leaders.

Last February, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed lawsuits against five cities that have passed cannabis decriminalization measures. The lawsuit was filed against the cities of Austin, San Marcos, Killeen, Elgin, and Denton “for adopting amnesty and non-prosecution policies that violate Texas laws concerning marijuana possession and distribution,” according to the attorney general’s office.

In 2022, the five cities enacted ordinances or civic policies that bar police officers from enforcing state laws prohibiting the possession or distribution of cannabis. 

After filing the lawsuits, Paxton said that such policies are prohibited by the Texas Local Government Code, which bars municipal and county governments from adopting “a policy under which the entity will not fully enforce laws relating to drugs.”

“I will not stand idly by as cities run by pro-crime extremists deliberately violate Texas law and promote the use of illicit drugs that harm our communities,” Paxton said in a statement on Wednesday. “This unconstitutional action by municipalities demonstrates why Texas must have a law to ‘follow the law.’ It’s quite simple: the legislature passes every law after a full debate on the issues, and we don’t allow cities the ability to create anarchy by picking and choosing the laws they enforce.”

In 2022, Denton voters approved an ordinance to decriminalize cannabis, with 71% of voters in favor, but some officers and the mayor of Denton ignored the law anyways. High Times also reported on Texas cops who essentially ignored hemp laws in Texas and the 2018 Farm Bill and raided hemp sellers anyways.

Currently, possession of up to two ounces of cannabis in most areas of Texas is a Class B misdemeanor and punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Possession of over two ounces can result in up to a year in jail, and more than four ounces is a felony crime, with a mandatory minimum sentence of two years.

Any amount of cannabis concentrate is considered a felony in Texas punishable with a minimum $10,000 fine and 180 days in jails. In addition, paraphernalia is also illegal and can result in a $500 fine.

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