A Slight Majority of Texas Republicans Favor Marijuana Legalization

The U.S appears to have turned some sort of corner in the debate about marijuana legalization. First, congressional Republicans said they wanted to decriminalize marijuana at the national level. Now, a new poll finds a slight majority of Republicans in Texas, perhaps the reddest of all red states, backs legalization of weed.

In fact, a majority of all Texas not only favor weed legalization, but also other progressive causes such as mandatory racial bias training for police officers and prosecuting officers those who use excessive force. It’s the latest sign that things are changing in Texas.

The survey asked Texans about nine proposed criminal justice reforms, including “legalize sale and use of marijuana.” In all, 67 percent of all Texans supported the idea, a number on par with national survey numbers from Gallup. While voters in red and blue states disagree on many issues, marijuana legalization apparently is not one of them.

Legalization has support across the political spectrum.

Researchers from the University of Houston and Texas Southern University conducted the survey of 2,067 Texans in early October. On the marijuana issue, 67 percent of respondents favored legalization, while 33 percent opposed it. By political affiliation, support came from Democrats (79 percent), independents (70 percent) and Republicans (51 percent).

While support from those who identify as Republican was narrow, it also mirrors the support from among Republicans for marijuana legalization in national surveys.

The survey also broke down support from marijuana legalization by different groups other than political affiliation. For example, legalization is favored by Black people (79 percent), Latinos (69 percent) and white people (65 percent). Legalization also received support across generations, including Generation Z (77 percent), Millennials (79 percent), and Generation X (71 percent). Among Baby Boomers in Texas, 50 percent supported legalization.

The survey provides an interesting look at the nation’s most conservative state.

Texas certainly has earned its reputation as a leader among the red states on a wide range of conservative issues. The second largest state in the union, Texas  does not have legal adult-use marijuana and only offers a limited medical marijuana program.

However, the new survey found that a majority of Texans support criminal justice reform tied to progressive causes.

  • 86 percent support mandates requiring police officers to get de-escalation training
  • 79 percent support a requiring prosecution against officers who use excessive force
  • 74 percent support police officers receiving extensive racial bias training
  • 67 percent would legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana

At the political level, little has changed in Texas. While lawmakers acted on expanding the medical marijuana program to cancer and PTSD patients and passed a resolution in 2018 supporting decriminalization, they have not taken any further significant action on legalization in Texas.

Rather than wait for lawmakers, advocates in Texas have started to push the issue in the same way voters in Colorado and Washington did a decade ago. For example, the progressive group Ground Game for Texas recently turned in 35,000 signatures to the city clerk’s office in Austin to get decriminalization on the city ballot for the May 2022 elections. The proposal, called Austin Freedom Act, would amend city code to decriminalize low-level marijuana offenses and ban using “no knock” warrants by law enforcement in Austin.

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