by Mary Tuma
Screen shot via Progress Texas
"The early numbers show that marijuana regulation may be more popular than Texas football," said Phillip Martin, deputy director of Progress Texas. "We're still in the first quarter of our outreach, but Texans appear ready for a serious conversation about marijuana regulation."
Other recent findings highlight changing attitudes toward marijuana use among Texans. A February 2014 poll from the Texas Tribune/The University of Texas at Austin reported most Texans would support marijuana legalization for medical use and a near-majority would be okay with legalizing it for any use. Nearly 50 percent of registered voters would legalize pot for any purpose—either in small quantities (32 percent) or in any amount (17 percent). Just 23 percent of registered Texas voters thought marijuana should be illegal across the board.
And a September 2013 Public Policy Polling survey, commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project, showed 58 percent of Texas respondents favor making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol, while 38 percent said they were opposed.
It also found about 60 percent of Texans are behind removing criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replacing the charges with a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $100 with no potential jail time. As per Texas law, possession of two ounces or less of marijuana results in a Class B misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to 180 days in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.
During a recent economic forum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry endorsed marijuana decriminalization (not legalization) and supported the idea of using Drug Courts, which offer treatment, reform and less severe punishment for lower offenses, eliciting praise from unlikely fans, the Marijuana Policy Project.