More than 80% of Texans are in favor of medical cannabis, while a smaller majority backs recreational pot, according to a new survey.
The poll, which comes via the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, found that 82% of Texans support legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. Sixty-seven percent of Texans support legislation that would make the recreational use of marijuana for any purpose legal for those age 21 and older, according to the poll.
“Attitudes about the use of marijuana have been evolving over the past few decades, and we found especially strong support for expanding the use of medical marijuana,” said Renée Cross, senior executive director and researcher at the Hobby School, as quoted by Houston Public Media. “But a majority of Texans across-the-board – across partisan, generational and racial and ethnic lines – also said they support legalization for recreational use.”
Medical cannabis is legal in the Lone Star State, but the law is highly restrictive. Qualifying patients are only allowed cannabis products that contain 1% THC or less. The program is also plagued by a dearth of dispensaries, with only three new licenses issued in the past three years.
Last month, the Texas Department of Public Safety said that it was trying to mitigate that as it began accepting applications for new dispensary licenses.
“An announcement detailing the process for application acceptance and the subsequent approval process to issue additional licenses will be made at a later date. The department will issue only the number of licenses necessary to ensure reasonable statewide access to, and the availability of, low-THC cannabis for patients registered in the compassionate-use registry,” the department said in its announcement last month.
Recreational marijuana, meanwhile, remains prohibited.
The polling data from the University of Houston shows strong support across multiple demographics for both.
Among the 82% who say they support medical cannabis, 56% said they are “strongly” in favor of the policy.
Here’s more from the cross-tabs:
“85% of Latino, 83% of Black and 80% of white Texans support this [medical cannabis] legislation. This includes 60% of Latinos and 55% of whites who strongly support it. 83% of women and 80% of men support this legislation. 93% of Democrats, 79% of Independents and 73% of Republicans support this legislation. This includes 71% of Democrats who strongly support it.”
As for recreational pot, 47% said they are “strongly” in favor.
“When asked about preferences regarding the sale and use of marijuana in Texas, 54% of Texans opt for legislation under which marijuana would be legal for medical and recreational use and 28% of Texans opt for legislation under which marijuana would be legal for medical use only. Finally, 18% of Texans prefer the current legislative status quo under which marijuana use for either recreational or medical purposes is illegal in Texas,” the pollsters wrote.
Mark P. Jones, senior research fellow at the Hobby School and political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, observed some partisan and religious division in the polling numbers.
“A significant minority of Texans, especially those who identify as Republican, Independent and born-again Christian, say they personally do not favor easing state regulations,” Jones said, as quoted by Houston Public Media. “Almost one out of five Texans, or 18%, said they would prefer no change to the state’s current marijuana laws.”
Cross, meanwhile, envisions reform for the state’s medical cannabis law.
“If anything, I think we’ll see the diseases or illnesses allowed probably expanded,” she said, as quoted by Houston Public Media. “So in essence, it will make it easier to get a prescription for medical marijuana in Texas.”