According to a survey conducted by The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler, 72 percent of registered voters in Texas, including a majority of Republicans (67%), said they support medical cannabis legalization.
When it comes to legalizing the drug for adult use, 55% of respondents were in favor of the idea. However, Republicans are more divided over the issue than Democrats, with 48% opposed and 43 in favor of broad legalization. In comparison, 65% of Democrats back the policy.
A cannabis decriminalization bill successfully passed the House in 2019, but did not advance in the Senate that session. There have since been modest reforms, including the expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program, but the conservative legislature has yet to meaningfully advance adult-use legalization legislation.
Though Texas Republicans are divided on the issue, the state’s GOP party formalized its opposition to ending prohibition again with the adoption of a policy plank as part of its 2022 platform.
However, opinions vary within the state party. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller argued in favor of further expanding medical cannabis access in an op-ed last month, saying that “cannabis prohibition came from a place of fear, not from medical science or the analysis of social harm.” Even Gov. Greg Abbott acknowledged that “prison and jail is a place for dangerous criminals who may harm others, and small possession of marijuana is not the type of violation that we want to stockpile jails with.”
Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke has championed legalization efforts throughout his political career and criticized the GOP party over its restrictive stance on the issue. Early in his campaign, he promised to legalize cannabis In Texas, something he said “most of us, regardless of party, actually agree on.”