If the majority of Texans have their way, pot might one day complete the legal drug cocktail of booze and cigarettes. According to a new survey, 58 percent of Texans support legalizing marijuana and regulating it like alcohol. The survey was conducted by Public Policy Polling and released by the Marijuana Policy Project.
Barring legalization, 61 percent of respondents favor removing criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana possession and replacing it with a fine of $100 and no possibility of jail time.
Texas law currently punishes pot possession with up to one year in jail and a fine as large as $2,000. The Marijuana Policy Project reports that there are more U.S. arrests for pot possession each year than for all violent crimes combined.
"Law enforcement officials' time would be better spent addressing violent crimes instead of adults simply possessing marijuana," Marijuana Policy Project's Rob Kampia said in a statement. "No adult should face potentially life-altering criminal penalties for using a product that is significantly less harmful than alcohol."
Only 24 percent of Texans polled strongly oppose passing pot laws similar to those in Colorado and Washington, where adults age 21 and older can purchase marijuana in stores. Fifty-eight percent believe that seriously ill patients should be able to use medical marijuana for "a limited number of conditions" as recommended by doctors.
Although the Marijuana Policy Project has a clearly stated goal of promoting safe, legal access to pot, Public Policy Polling is nationally recognized for reliable, unbiased survey results. The poll questioned 860 randomly selected Texas voters, with 42 percent of responders identifying as Republicans, 35 percent as Democrats and 23 percent as Independents.
Lest doubters believe the youth vote swayed the results, only 28 percent of those polled were between the ages of 18 and 45. The majority of respondents were ages 46 to 65 plus.