Public Opinion

Is Support for Marijuana Legalization Stronger in Texas Than in Massachusetts?


Texas Cannabis Report

The other day a friend in Dallas mentioned that someone he knows suffers from severe chronic pain that is not adequately relieved by narcotics. This guy has thought about trying marijuana but is reluctant because of the stigma attached to it. "I told him it's medical," my friend said. "Not in Texas," I replied.

Texas, like the federal government and 28 other states, does not allow medical use of cannabis, and its marijuana penalties are unusually harsh: Simple possession of two ounces or less is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail, two to four ounces can get you a year, and anything more than that is a felony triggering sentences of two to 99 years, depending on the amount. Hash penalties are especially severe, with weight cutoffs that equate one gram of resin with 57 grams of buds. Most Texans favor a less punitive approach, according to new polling data. More surprising, the poll found that most Texans support outright legalization. Here are the responses Public Policy Polling (PPP) got in a survey conducted late last month:

"Do you support or oppose changing the law in Texas to allow seriously and terminally ill patients to use medical marijuana for a limited number of conditions if their doctors recommend it?"

Support: 58 percent

Oppose: 31 percent

Not sure: 11 percent

"Under current Texas law, it is a criminal offense for a person to possess a small amount of marijuana, and he or she can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, and fined up to $2,000. Would you support or oppose a change in the law to make it a civil, not criminal, offense to possess an ounce or less of marijuana for personal use, punishable by a fine of up to $100, but without jail time?"

Support: 61 percent

Oppose: 30 percent

Not sure: 9 percent

"The voters in Colorado and Washington changed their laws to allow marijuana to be regulated similarly to alcohol for adults age 21 and older. Would you support or oppose changing Texas law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol, where stores would be licensed to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older?"

Strongly support: 41 percent

Somewhat support: 17 percent

Somewhat oppose: 14 percent

That last finding—58 percent support for legalizing the commercial distribution of marijuana—is especially striking in a solidly red state that has favored the Republican candidate for president in every election since 1980. As you might expect, Democrats in the Texas survey were more likely to favor legalization than Republicans (70 percent vs. 48 percent). Yet it is unusual to find even that much support for legalization among Republicans. A January 2013 Reason-Rupe survey, for instance, found that only 35 percent of Republicans wanted to treat marijuana like alcohol. Overall support for legalization in that survey was 53 percent, similar to the findings of other recent national polls.

A PPP survey conducted last month in Massachusetts, a solidly blue state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3 to 1, found only 49 percent of respondents thought "marijuana usage should be legal." Is it possible that more Texans support legalizing not only use but also production and sale? I'd like to believe it, but I am dubious.

A few factors may be at work here. The Texas PPP survey, unlike the one in Massachusetts, provided a model for thinking about marijuana legalization by likening it to the rules for alcohol. Judging from the findings of other surveys, this example is powerful enough that support for treating marijuana like alcohol, which entails legalizing production and distribution, is counterintuitively stronger than support for merely legalizing recreational use. Another significant difference is that the Texas survey, unlike the other two, gave people the option of "somewhat" supporting legalization, which presumably boosted the numbers in favor. Furthermore, the questionnaire mentioned legalization in Colorado and Washington immediately before asking about treating marijuana like alcohol in Texas. (The Reason-Rupe poll also mentioned the Colorado and Washington laws, but later in the survey, in the context of federal interference.) While it's not clear whether the Texans who said they "somewhat support" legalization can be counted on to back legislators who favor that policy, the apparent influence of the experiments in Colorado and Washington even in a state as conservative as Texas is encouraging.

[via the Texas Cannabis Report]


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  1. Is there support for legalizing anything in Massachusetts?

    1. Nothing good.

      1. Fascists gonna fasc.

    2. I was disgusted that Massachusetts voters voted down the physician assisted suicide law recently. Ted Kennedy’s widow and family played a huge part in defeating that bill, saying that had it passed the ‘Lion of the Senate’ may have been pressured to end his life prematurely. Even from the grave that man deals a blow against liberty.

      1. They didn’t call him the Hero of Chappaquiddick for nothing.

      2. ‘Lion of the Senate’ may have been pressured to end his life prematurely.

        Does Mass require id to vote?

        1. Are you kidding? Some of my friends have asked me to vote for them, although I didn’t take them up on the offer.

          All you need in MA is name and street address(as long as they are registered to vote).

        2. As any Coeurl knows, id is phosphorus.

    3. Illegal alien Democrat voters?

  2. Remembrr the Al…the Al…you know, the battle…its on the tip of my…puff…tongue…

    1. Sharpton?

    2. -imony?

  3. …treating marijuana like alcohol, which entails legalizing production and distribution, is counterintuitively stronger than support for merely legalizing recreational use.

    The idea of Massachusetts legalizing something without regulating and taxing it is ludicrous.

    1. Why is that counter-intuitive? Most of the harm and violence associated with drugs has to do with the production and distribution. I always think it is bizarre that so many people think that decriminalization of personal use is a good idea, but full legalization is not. If you keep production and sale illegal, you keep the worst parts of prohibition.

      Now of course I’d rather see it just legalized without massive regulation. But I don’t think that is very likely. Honestly, the idea of any state legalizing drugs without heavily taxing and regulating it is pretty ludicrous.

  4. Texas puts retarded children to death, so I guess it makes sense they don’t think of the children.

  5. It shouldn’t surprise you.

    Massachusetts is a backward, prejudiced place. All those jokes about the people in the bible belt they make here are pretty much examples of projection.

    For example, most supermarkets don’t sell alcohol here; they have to lock away the alcohol on Sundays. So they either don’t sell it at all, or they have a separate store within the building for alcoholic beverages.

    Their theocracy might have replaced the God of Christianity with the Gaia Goddess but it has retained its oppressive life-crushing character. Culturally many of my fellow citizens are maybe one point more advanced than they were when they were hanging old women for being witches.

    1. I don’t agree. The Blue Laws persist due to sheer corporatism. It’s not cultural at all.

      1. It’s cultural in that New England tends to have a traditionalist bent. As a general cultural rule (and this is not meant to be collectivist, but more of a general cultural trend observation, as I am from Connecticut), New Englanders don’t like change. Yeah, the Blue Laws are stupid. And yes, the liquor store owners like them because they don’t have to compete with someone who might stay open longer, or with the supermarket. But also, things take a long time to get reversed/changed in New England. “That’s the way things are” is kind of an attitude there. Can any other New Englanders back me up on this?

        1. That attitude certainly extends SW into PA.

          “It’s always been like that…accept it…change is too hard.”

        2. I grew up in MA and kinda of agree.

          People in southern New England are far more tolerant of intrusive laws and politicians than the northern half. Real Yankees have no use for politicians.

          1. I can’t speak for MA, but in CT, we had no use for politicians or the law either. I had no police in my town growing up. I had zero interaction with the police or politicians growing up at all. Everyone I knew routinely ignored any law or restriction they didn’t like. And who was going to do anything about it? You kept to yourself and that was that.

        3. Yes, but as you might recall before you moved, it was the business community that threw a shit fit in CT over the simple change of moving the beer hour from 8 PM to 9 PM. It had absolutely nothing to do with puritanical tendencies.

          There’s a huge drinking culture in NE, just like the rest of the country. The purchase of alcohol remains moribund in old ways because of entrenched business interests, not because of morality or traditions. There’s not a single Masshole who doesn’t drive to NH and say simultaneously “Shit, why can’t I buy beer in supermarkets” and “Shit, thank Gaia I can by Stoli at my local packy instead of a stupid state store”.

          1. Maybe you’re misunderstanding me. It’s absolutely correct that the entrenched businesses want the Blue Laws in place, I 100% agree with you. But there is also the undercurrent of New England culture that helps them, which is that New Englanders tend to not be motivated to agitate for change, even when it benefits them. Should Rhode Islanders have voted to change the state name to just Rhode Island instead of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations? Of course, since it just makes sense to simplify the name, and probably saves money too. Do you think that they would ever vote for that? Of course not. Because the long name is the traditional name, and that’s the way it should stay.

            1. I’m skeptical that such Traditionalism is specific to NE. I tend to see that everywhere. People generally don’t like change.

              1. KY passed Sunday Sales (its allowed statewide, but only certain cities have actually implemented it). The liquor stores in Louisville, like in New England, didnt want Sunday sales. And even with the large percentage of baptists to back them up, Sunday sales went in.

                Ive got to go with Epi on this one. You are going to have to come up with some reason the liquor stores in MA are more powerful than the ones in KY.

          2. Um, you can buy all the beer and wine you want at a grocery store in NH. Just not distilled spirits. And I think plenty of Massholes come up specifically for the state liquor stores. Prices are a good bit less than in Mass. Now, for many obvious reasons I would rather the state not be in the liquor business. But NH does a pretty good job. The stores are mostly pretty nice. Prices and selection are good. And they seem to actually want customers. The only complaint I really have is that they are not open later.

            1. From what I understand the reason NH liquor stores can price so low, aside from economy of scale, is because state-owned stores are not subject to the onerous federal taxes that normally occur at the point-of-sale.

              1. Is there some additional federal sales tax for liquor? Because I am quite sure that they still pay the usual excise tax for alcohol. Without the federal tax, a handle of cheap vodka would cost about $2.

                1. Yes I’m sure most of the taxes are at the distribution level, but there’s a specific tax that state-owned stores avoid which adds 2 or 3 bucks to a handle.

            2. Some friends of mine are getting married later this week, so they drove up to NH and bought all the alcohol for the wedding there.

              I always find it funny when liberals who rail about how tax rates don’t effect peoples behavior are willing to drive a few hours to avoid MA taxes.

            3. They can be pretty far to drive to. There are also far fewer of them than there would be if there was a market.

              That said, I generally agree. They are very non-Soviet, they have a good selection at decent prices. They are usually staffed with helpful, friendly people. My uncle used to work for one after he retired, and he was a salesman all his life. He loved talking to people and he liked (and was knowledgeable about) booze, he would have been a great employee. That they knew enough to hire him showed me someone was on the ball.

            4. Yes Zeb, I know. Did you think I was referring to those Stoli malt beverages? Seriously? Who the fuck drinks those anyhow?

              1. I misinterpreted what you said. I thought your hypothetical massholes were asking why they couldn’t buy beer in NH supermarkets.

        4. Not in New England, but to the south a few hundred miles in MD, it’s exactly like you say, very backwards thinking, crotchety, old, Democrats running the place with 300 year old laws, except for gay marriage of course.

          1. Not in New England, but to the south a few hundred miles in MD, it’s exactly like you say, very backwards thinking, crotchety, old, Democrats running the place with 300 year old laws, except for gay marriage of course.

            Which is hilariously ironic, because to further prove your point, Maryland still has sodomy laws which make ANY form of non-vaginal sex a crime.

        5. Yeah, that sounds pretty accurate, as a general observation. Though I have little experience with more southern New England. I went to college in CT and had to buy my liquor before 8 PM, but other than that I ignored local politics and law.

    2. I am no fan of Massachusetts, but this strikes me as an odd comment given that, in fact, medical marijuana is legal there and not in Texas.

      1. It’s about why.

        Is medical marijuana legal in Massachusetts because they think people should be free to do as they please?

        1. I do not know, lots of people have lots of motivations for how they vote. What is important, I should think, is that the voters of Massachusetts soundly backed more freedom in this area.

          1. I appreciate that lots of different people back the same thing for different reasons, but surely we can still say some things that are typical about each group relative to the other.

            Are there any other areas in which people from Massachusetts are likely to fall on the side of individual freedom?

            In Texas, they let you buy guns, and they don’t persecute you if you use one to defend yourself. In Texas, they have a highway with an 85 mph speed limit.

            Is there some way–any way–in which Massachusetts is like that?

            1. -Are there any other areas in which people from Massachusetts are likely to fall on the side of individual freedom?

              Not many, but I believe in giving even the devil his due when it is, well, due. They ‘did good’ here, let us give them credit.

              For the record, I do not think any state is very good on freedom, they just differ on what freedoms they decide to violate. Remember it is Texas that has a law banning the sale of vibrators.


              1. My favorite quote from that link:

                -The State of Texas argued that the state has the right to regulate morality: “The state also argued in a brief that Texas has legitimate “morality based” reasons for the laws, which include “discouraging prurient interests in autonomous sex and the pursuit of sexual gratification unrelated to procreation.””

              2. Nobody pays any attention to this law. Any and every sexual toy is available here. It is simply packaged and sold as a “novelty item”.

            2. Jesus Christ, REGION WAR is tiresome as fuck.

              (That being said I would never live in Massachusetts, but not because of REGION WAR)

              1. Because it’s a hellhole?

                The window’s dirty, the mattress stinks.
                This ain’t no place to be a man.
                I ain’t got no future, I ain’t got no past,
                And I don’t think I ever can.

                The floor is filthy, the walls are thin.
                The wind is howling in my face.
                The rats are peeling, I’m losing ground.
                Can’t seem to join the human race.

                I’m living in a hell hole,
                Don’t want to stay in this hell hole.
                Don’t want to die in this hell hole.
                Girl get me out of this hell hole.

                I rode the jet stream, I hit the top.
                I’m eating steak and lobster tails.
                The sauna’s drafty–oooh, the pool’s too hot.
                The kitchen stinks of boiling snails.

                The taxman’s coming, the butler quit.
                This ain’t no way to be a man.
                I’m going back to where I started.
                I’m flashing back into my pan.

                Yeah, that’s what I am doing, and why not?
                It’s better in a hell hole.
                You know where you stand in a hell hole.
                Folks lend a hand in a hell hole.
                Girl get me back to my hell hole.

              2. Jesus Christ, REGION WAR is tiresome as fuck.

                No it’s not. NOT IT’S NOT! You can take your Belltown hipsterism and shove it!

                1. Seattleites are all grungy bums who live strictly on coffee.

                2. Oh yeah, Paul? Where do you live, Georgetown? You hipster scum! There is a really good beer store there, though. But you still suck!

                  1. Where do you live, Georgetown?

                    No, but my ex-wife lives in Georgetown, aka the tool belt of Seattle. I live in a particularly unhip part of West Seattle. Which means not Admiral or the junction.

              3. There’s many reasons to not live in Massholia, number 1 reason, it’s like Maryland, except colder than hell.

                1. “colder than hell”

                  Do you mean Dante’s 9th Circle, or Hell in general after the Cleveland Browns win a championship?

                  1. What do you mean? They’ve won two. Since moving eastwards, that is.

              4. I was in Boston about a few months ago and saw this gigantic billboard with “Shame on Congress, Ban Assault Rifles NOW!” (or something like that) plastered across it on the downtown expressway. Probably the biggest billboard I’ve ever seen. It was like a blaring bullhorn screaming sanctimonious bullshit in my face first thing in the morning. I’m sorry about your region war sensibilities, but I fucking despise those people.

                1. It (the billboard x 4) was bought by some millionaire for like the next hundred years after his kid got shot. I don’t really begrudge the guy given the context, although it does make me want to throw things every time I drive past.

              5. Jesus Christ, REGION WAR is tiresome as fuck.

                I think it’s become important.

                I think there are millions of people in places like Massachusetts, New York, and California that falsely imagine themselves truly liberal, somehow, because of where they live.

                If I had to choose where to live on no other basis but personal freedom, I’d rather live in Texas than Massachusetts, and I think that’s mostly attributable to the “liberals” that live there.

                That’s important. They need to know their fly is open.

            3. Well, they also decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot. Pretty weak, but still good in that way.

    3. The most overtly racist comments I’ve ever heard–multiple times in one visit from different people–were in Boston. By far, and I’m from the supposedly Klan-infested South. Yet they talk about those racist Southerners.

      1. And let’s not forget the Boston Busing Crisis.

        1. Thank you for beating me to the punch on that. I didn’t want to the one impugning Boston’s Blue Cred.

          1. Yeah, they’re racists, but that doesn’t make busing right. Unless you want to use the school system, not to teach math, etc, but to punish children for the sins of their parents.

      2. “They” also talk about racist Bostonians quite a bit. Hardly a secret.

    4. I’d say it’s because progs have abandoned any dedication to civil liberties and simply worship the state now. They’ve moved to the bottom of the Nolan chart.

      1. There is no good end to people worshiping the state. None.

        1. Infidel!

          /the proglodytes

    5. Massachusetts is a backward, prejudiced place.

      That was my experience back in the late ’80s.

      The most famous protests against school busing were in Massachusetts, don’t forget.…

  6. The PPP is essentially the polling arm of the Democrat Party. I would not trust their polls as far as I could throw them.

    1. I saw some bullshit poll they did with that was, well, bullshit.

    2. Right. They are only trustworthy when they are polling something that everyone else is also polling, like national president.

      They have multiple times played with other polls for dem political advantage. Ie. the rushed poll showing adkin still in it that was overwhelmingly GOP voters to give him somethign to tsay why he didnt need to drop out. Or more recently sitting on a poll showing that teh GOP was going to win the CO specials.

      Take them with a grain of salt.

      1. Recently they had to admit that their polling showed bad news for the anti-gun Democrat state legislators in Colorado’s special election and so they did not release the results for fear of harming them.

        I take them with a pillar of salt 😉

        1. Isn’t PPP what the Daily Kos changed it’s polling outfit’s name to after they got in hot water for some particularly egregious bullshit a few years ago?

  7. It wouldn’t surprise me if Texas was more supportive of legalization for their own reasons relative to Massachusetts. As conservative as Texans are supposed to be, I think they tend to be biased towards individual rights in their own way. Ask them if gay people should be allowed to get married, and you’ll get one answer; ask them if individuals should be free to marry who they want, and I bet you’d get a different answer. Also, I think American legalization is seen in by Mexicans as the most important solution to the drug wars in Mexico–and as Mexican-Americans continue to become a more important part of Texas’ demographics, I’d expect to see the general consensus move more in that direction.

    Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, progressives are biased towards not letting anybody do anything unless it’s somehow in everyone’s best interests. They might make an exception on an issue if they know it sticks in the craws of conservatives in red states, but apart from that, if you can’t explain to them why something (like marijuana legalization) is in everyone’s best interests, then you’re fighting an uphill battle in Massachusetts. That’s another one of the reasons why progressives are America’s most horrible people.

    1. Yes – Texas is more supportive of freedom than MA.

  8. MA is a prime example of the Nanny State in action. By rule, Freedom is not compatible with the Nanny State. Medical Marijuana passes the smell test of Nanny Statists because it is tightly controlled and is in pursuit of a particular goal (the relief of a diagnosed condition via a medicinal product).

    Legalization involves Freedom. Freedom is alien to the MA culture. If there’s any relationship to theocracy, as tarran intimates, it’s to the religion of control.

    1. Again, it is more than a bit strange to see so many people weighing in against the nanny-statism of Massachusetts when it is there that medical marijuana is legal and Texas where you get prison for it.

      1. Are you reading the words you’re allegedly responding to?

        1. The times stamps and threading messed me up. I just deleted a profanit-laced diatribe because I wanted to go back and double check…
          (E.g. Kens response was at 2:05)

          So once again, I get to blame threaded comments.

      2. Bo, seriously, did you read the article?

        A PPP survey conducted last month in Massachusetts, a solidly blue state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3 to 1, found only 49 percent of respondents thought “marijuana usage should be legal.” Is it possible that more Texans support legalizing not only use but also production and sale?

        1. Yes, I read it. The fact remains that MA has legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized small recreational possession and Texas has not. So is it not strange from that fact to start a rant about how nanny-state MA is?

          1. No, not really. Most people here don’t give a shit what other people do. In Texas, we haven’t seen the kind of voter initiatives to legalize weed that other states have seen. It’s not necessarily that the state is expending huge amounts of energy to keep pot illegal, it’s more like there’s not a huge amount of marijuana advocacy campaigns going on to promote voter awareness. And for a lot of voters here, I imagine it’s not an important issue.

            1. In Texas, we haven’t seen the kind of voter initiatives to legalize weed that other states have seen

              Likely because Texas doesn’t have voter initiatives.


      3. Again, it is more than a bit strange to see so many people weighing in against the nanny-statism of Massachusetts when it is there that medical marijuana is legal and Texas where you get prison for it.


        Because one would expect the conservative state of Texas to be against MJ and the “liberal/progressive” state of Massachusetts to be pro legalization? Liberals against civil liberty is more fucked up than conservatives against civil liberty. And if liberals are against civil liberties, they’re pretty much against ALL liberty, because they sure as shit aren’t pushing for fiscal freedoms.

        1. -Because one would expect the conservative state of Texas to be against MJ and the “liberal/progressive” state of Massachusetts to be pro legalization?

          And they are. 63% and 65%, respectively, of MA voters cast their ballots to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize small possession. Both are illegal in Texas.

          1. I note that the MA and TX legislatures have both shown an equal willingness to liberalize pot laws.

            And that TX doesn’t have voter initiatives.

            On the one measure where you can compare the two, they are equally bad.

            1. -And that TX doesn’t have voter initiatives.

              Well, that says something right there.

              1. That Texas has retained the Founder’s distrust of direct democracy?

    2. MA is a prime example of the Nanny State in action.

      Not really, MA is far behind the nanny curve than the much better examples of CA, NY, and NJ. Probably a few other states too.

  9. OT:

    Didn’t I read this article 20 years ago?

    Locations around the globe will soon reach climatic tipping points, with some in tropical regions ? home to most of the world’s biodiversity ? feeling the first impacts of unprecedented eras of elevated temperatures as soon as seven years from now, according to a study released Wednesday.…..ngxml.html

  10. “Texas wants you armed and stoned.” –Chief Reg-hawk Lizzie Warren.

      1. Just a reminder that Warren is pretty much completely anti-freedom.…..blican-for

    1. Good. I want me armed and stoned too. Too bad it’s so fucking hot in Texas.

  11. I’d vote for here in Texas.

  12. The busybody’s in Mass are still smarting from the decriminalization initiative a few years back. The wording of the initiative proscribes a fine for possession and leaves it at that. Therefore by law there is no penalty for not paying the fine so the vast majority have chosen not to. I love when a technicality actually increases liberty as rare as it might be.

    1. I think that they are also not allowed to demand that you identify yourself if you get caught with pot. So unless you are stupid, the worst you will get is to have your bag confiscated.

  13. I think that because decriminalization in MA has made both smoking and possession for personal use de facto legal acts, people simply may not have given much thought to the question before answering. Unless you have friends who are dealers (which I do), nobody you know is in danger of being arrested, or even fined, for their cannabis habit, so for a lot of people, that, combined with the vote last November legalizing medical pot (implementation is still awaiting roll-out, but the deadline is looming), have made it a low-priority issue.

    And when I say that possession and smoking are de facto legal, I mean that for the last four years my now 22 year old daughter and her friends have routinely lit up walking down our city’s main street in plain view of clearly disinterested police officers. Shit, even my employers, who require pre-employment drug screening, let people who fail wait a few weeks and then be retested (at their own expense) if they fail for pot. It’s just gotten to the point that almost nobody cares.

  14. I wonder how much MA is like MD in the too obvious fact that around here, seemingly more than anything else, old white people identify themselves as Democrats. It’s almost like a religion with them. Most of them have a ‘Not a Republican’ bumper sticker on their car. They really, really, really want you to know that they are a Democrat.

    Get outside of Baltimore far enough to the West or South and this changes, but there are not enough people in those areas to have a voice in state wide elections.

    1. That being said, back to subject, I definitely expect weed to be legal in TX before MD. I am sticking to my prediction that MD will be dead last. MA sounds like it will be way down the list also.

      1. -MA sounds like it will be way down the list also.

        MA has already legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized small possession.

        1. Which, as we have seen, actually lessens the pressure for legalization, and creates in the medpot industry an anti-legalization lobby.

          So, yeah, there are a lot of reasons to believe MA will be slow to make any more progress.

  15. Doesn’t surprise me the least bit. Anyone who has been paying attention already knows that progressives are far worse on the WoD than the conservatives. Even the stoner progressives want to keep pot illegal. As long as they can get theirs they will screw everyone else.

    Texas leans conservative while Massachusetts leans progressive, therefore Texas is more likely to legalize pot than Massachusetts. QED.

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