Marijuana in Texas: UH Hobby School poll on legalization, Houstonians react

A majority of Texans support legislation that would legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational use, according to a new survey by the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs.

The report is part of a series in which Texas adults were asked about legislative issues being considered by Texas lawmakers this legislative session.

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According to the survey conducted online, 82% of Texans support legislation to make marijuana legal for a wide range of medical purposes with a prescription, and 56% were strongly in support.

On the issue of decriminalizing marijuana, 81% of Texans support legislation to make the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana a citation, similar to a traffic ticket, the survey shows.

According to the report, 67% of Texans support legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and 47% were strongly in support.

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Overall, when asked about their preferred marijuana policy, the report shows that just over half of Texans would opt for legislation making marijuana legal for both medical and recreational use, just over a quarter would prefer a policy only legalizing marijuana for medical use, and 18% of Texans prefer the current policy in which marijuana is not legal.

"I feel like it's a good idea, and they should push it to become legal," says Enrique Vera of Houston. Working in the oil and gas industry, he also thinks the idea for recreational use would not be well received by some employers. "I feel like they wouldn't want us to do it, because it would mess with our job productivity." 

FILE PHOTO. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Currently in Texas, the Compassionate Use Program only allows certain physicians to prescribe low-THC cannabis – ingested only through swallowing and not smoking – for a limited number of conditions including epilepsy, seizure disorders, and terminal cancer.

According to the report, 63% of both Democrats and Independents prefer legislation that would legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational use, while only 38% of Republicans are in favor of the policy. 

"What we find is that there's strong support for medical marijuana across all partisan, ethnic, racial, gender generational groups," says Dr. Mark Jones of the University of Houston's Hobby School of Public Affairs. "It's even the preferred position of Republicans surveyed. Democrats would prefer legalization of recreational marijuana, but the average Republican would prefer recreation over medical marijuana." Notable Texans like former Governor Rick Perry has advocated for medical marijuana for veterans suffering from PTSD.

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According to the report, 1,200 respondents participated in the survey and matched a sampling frame of demographics and education levels to be representative of the Texas adult population.

The report further delves into Texans’ beliefs about the sale and use of marijuana, including the impact on government revenue. It also breaks down the data into specific demographics. 

To see the full findings of the report on marijuana policy preferences, click here