A New Poll Says a Majority of Texans Want to Legalize Marijuana, But It's Probably Wrong

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The pendulum of public opinion on marijuana policy has been swinging rather dramatically in recent years away from prohibition and toward a more libertarian approach. Hence last year's decision by voters in Colorado and Washington to legalize the stuff and the corresponding announcement by the Justice Department that, so long as the states' markets are well-regulated, it's not terribly concerned.

Texas tends to lag when it comes to progressive social causes, and nonscientific observation suggests a Washington-like embrace of pot is a decade or two away, at least. This would seem to be borne out by a Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll from two years ago showing that 59 percent of Texans are against the legalization and taxation of marijuana, with 41 percent in favor.

But according to the Huffington Post, NORML, and others, public opinion has undergone a complete reversal. Now, 58 percent of Texans support "making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol."

The numbers come from a Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project. The same poll also found that 61 percent want to decriminalize marijuana possession.

See also: The Legislative Push to Make Texas More Marijuana-Friendly is Officially Dead

MPP's executive director Rob Kampia insists that the results speak for themselves. "Most Texans agree that marijuana sales should be conducted by legitimate businesses instead of drug cartels in the underground market," he says.

But there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. One is the source of the poll. PPP, a left-leaning outfit, has been repeatedly taken to task by others in the industry for questionable methodology. And there's no question where its client, MPP, stands on the question of marijuana.

There are also the questions themselves, which are confusing and poorly worded. Here's how they ask about legalization:

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?

Respondents are then given five options: strongly agree or disagree, somewhat agree or disagree, and not sure.

See also: The Feds Say a Dallas Clothing Store Was Actually a Front for Jet-setting Drug Dealer

Compare that with the Texas Tribune/UT's yes/no query from two years ago:

[Would you] legalize the use of marijuana and impose taxes on its purchase?

Say those two questions in your head and guess which one you're more likely to flub.

Methodology aside, though, the biggest red flags are the results themselves. There's no way public opinion on an issue swung almost 20 points in two years. That just doesn't happen, suggesting that one of the surveys is bullshit. The question, then, is whether you trust the team from the well-respected, nonpartisan media outlet and research university, or the progressive-leaning, for-hire polling outfit.

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39 comments
Catbird
Catbird

Ten years ago I would never have agreed with legalizing weed but then, I also believed that al Queda and Osama bin Laden defeated the entire US defense establishment on 911 and that two airliners and the kerosene that fuels them brought down two 110 story towers that were designed specifically to resist the impact and fire that happened that day.

It'll be ok...decriminalize it,and regulate it like other harmful narcotics...no one should be put into the criminal justice system for holding a baggy of marijuana or smoking a joint.     

cactusflinthead
cactusflinthead

Ok, you have a poll that is 2 years old. In terms of polling it might as well be ancient history. You don't like PPP because they are paid to do it or because they have a progressive bent or you don't like their methodology? In the lead paragraph of the New Republic article you cited there is this leading statement after which they continue on to question methodology. 

"But when the election results came in, PPP’s polls were vindicated and the conspiracy-minded critics were debunked."

And then there is this article http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/10/which-polls-fared-best-and-worst-in-the-2012-presidential-race/?_r=0 from one of the polling gurus, Nate Silver concerning accuracy and how the bias played out in favor of D or R. They ended up with R +1.6. Ahead of WaPo/ABC, Rasmussen and Gallup (who was dead last) but behind CNN, Marist and 13 others. 

I personally do not care a whole heckuva lot about methodology. I want to know if they got it right more often than they got it wrong, how big the margin of error, where they missed and on what side their results end up with a bias. I don't have a problem with the PPP question. Do you view it as push polling to give the results of what happened in other states? 

That you base its dismissal upon their political leanings and a very dated poll is rather short sighted. That they get paid to poll has no bearing whatsoever on the conversation. If a free poll gets bad results it is not worth considering. What is the track record? Are they wrong more often than they are right? In your very own citation in the lead paragraph it states that they were vindicated by the results. Kinda shooting holes in your own argument over there Eric. 

Tell your buddies over at the Tribune the gauntlet has been thrown down and get cracking on another poll. 

Not that it is gonna make the Lege do anything about it, but it might give some lowly intern a job  for a week or two. 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

I wonder if one of the questions was:


"Would you vote for a constitutional amendment to allow the sale of marijuana with restrictions similar to alcohol with taxes imposed to support children's education; or, would you prefer that dangerous, lethal Mexican drug cartels armed by Obama's "Fast and Furious" drug running program continue to control the distribution and sale of marijuana along with their keeping all of the profits?"

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

When you spend more to prosecute a single marijuana possession case than on a year of primary education for a student something is obviously out of whack.   

Goodwithoutgod
Goodwithoutgod

having 5% of the world's population and 25% percent of it's prison population is clearly not enough...and people in small towns need $10 an hour jobs because the jobs they previously held got shipped overseas and the companies pocketed the savings and still raised prices and the rich clearly have done poorly in this country the last 30 years and we must help them by allowing them to build more prisons.  We need more criminilization of drugs...lock em up forever!!!

dmtrousd
dmtrousd

Decriminalization would be a step in the right direction. Even if you're already on board, I suggest reading 'Drugs and Drug Policy.' It's a comprehensive primer on drugs, and it details the pitfalls and successes of decriminalization.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

We're getting close to having the ability to pass a Constitutional Amendment to repeal prohibition on pot!

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

I believe living with Oops, Cruz, Abbott (I'm the Lt. Gov. let my niece go), Gohmert (beyond description) and the rest has driven people to seek solace in the herb.

cannabis
cannabis

" A New Poll Says a Majority of Texans Want to Legalize Marijuana, But It's Probably Wrong"

but it's probably wrong? what is "WRONG" is your blatant denial of the facts... stop making such stupidly biased comments. did you go to journalism school at all????

BrianKelly
BrianKelly

The "War on Marijuana" has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful "War on Drugs" that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.


Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions of more dollars fighting a never ending "War on Marijuana", lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It's a no brainer.


The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal.records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?


Marijuana is way safer, and healthier to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?


Marijuana is the safest and healthiest recreational substance known to man, with many wonderful medical benefits as well.


Even The President of the United States himself has used marijuana. Has it hurt his chances at succeeding in life? If he had gotten caught by the police during his college years, he may have very well still been in jail today! Beyond that, he would then be fortunate to even be able to find a minimum wage job that would consider hiring him with a permanent criminal record. Let's end this hypocrisy now!


The government should never attempt to legislate morality because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.


Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that's approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!


Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

jamessavik
jamessavik

I don't see the costs of jails and layers upon layers of law enforcement are worth it. We have bigger fish to fry.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

I really wish the ruling Republicans would just put marijuana legalization (or at least decriminilaztion) and legalized casino gambling on the ballot as a referendum. I guarantee you they'd both pass if voted on by the public.

nakedlens
nakedlens

How much has public opinion on same-sex marriage changed in the past two years?

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 The best way to find out would be to put it to a referendum.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@Catbird Too bad you seem like a reasonable person regarding the weed, but on the other, you're drinking Alex Jones' Wingnut Flavored Kool-Aid. 

peterochs
peterochs

@Goodwithoutgod caution using sarcasm around Republicans... unless it can be fired off, and then reloaded by hand, and not the wit, they don't know what it is.

Daniel
Daniel

@cannabis If you weren't so stoned, you'd be embarrassing yourself. 

dmtrousd
dmtrousd

I do not believe the article says what you think it says. You might want to read the article instead of just reading the title and heading straight to the comments section.

Goodwithoutgod
Goodwithoutgod

@BrianKelly the war on drugs has been widely successful for the people that profit off of it.  Law enforcement equipment manufacturers, the prison industrial complex, drug cartels and the money they launder and kick back, folks in the DEA, etc.  The losers are the middle class taxpayers that are left holding the bag, as per usual.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@BrianKelly The beauty of marijuana legalization is it is the one thing most liberals and conservatives under 50 can agree on. The reasons vary by person but everyone agrees the laws are idiotic, it's just a matter of waiting for the olds to die off enough for it to pass.

But be warned, when it does come up for a referendum the alcohol industry will spend a damn fortune fighting it. They have the data and in the 20 some odd states it is available in it his hurting them. I'd also suggest the attorney groups will privately (not publicly) fight it with a lot of money because possession and alcohol offenses are the bread and butter of a lot of attorneys.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@BrianKelly I agree with your argument, but laws against murder and rape can be viewed as legislating morality.  That's really not a salient point, otherwise, good stuff.  Just drop that one, it's debatable, and you're not trying to introduce moot points

rubbercow
rubbercow

You don't work in jails or law enforcement do you? Don't get me wrong, I am all about full legalization but we have allowed the enforcement arm of the equation to become too powerful a financial interest.

yoka
yoka

@Goodwithoutgod @BrianKelly Goodwithoutgod, you are absolutely right.  That's why the media can continue to commission polls, and the Observer staff can continue to write hopeful articles, and the citizens can evolve in their thinking, but the War On Drugs, including pot, ain't going anywhere.   

BrianKelly
BrianKelly

@scottindallas @BrianKelly

How about "The government should never attempt to legislate morality  by creating  victim-less "crimes" , because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

dmtrousd
dmtrousd

I've never understood the "you can't legislate morality" saying. I've heard it used to support many good ideas, it kind of takes the rug right out of otherwise rational thought.

yoka
yoka

@rubbercow Correct.  Ditto the legal community, who make lots of money pleading out young stoners caught with a blunt in their car's ashtray.

jamessavik
jamessavik

@rubbercowI agree.

Thirty years ago they said BE AFRAID! we need tougher laws because drugs are out of control.

We bent the constitution a little and it didn't hurt most people.

Twenty years ago they said BE AFRAID!we need tougher laws because of perverts are out of control.

We bent the constitution a little and it didn't hurt most people

Ten years ago they said BE AFRAID! we needed tougher laws because the terrorists are out of control.

We bent the constitution a little and it didn't hurt most people

Now we've got people looking at our socks and underwear at airports, SWAT teams assaulting houses in the suburbs that have an interesting looking greenhouse and the NSA is listing to our phone sex and...

NONE OF THOSE PROBLEMS HAVE IMPROVED.

NONE OF THOSE PROBLEMS HAS EVEN BEEN SERIOUSLY ADDRESSED

It's time to do something different. It's time to repair the wounds to the constitution. Otherwise we are just another police state that has a nice constitution that no one really pays attention to and we are all at the mercy of a machine that can only be described as the bluntest of instruments.



TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@yoka @Goodwithoutgod @BrianKelly 

I hate the fact that you are right. As far as the DEA is concerned, weed is the goose that lays the golden eggs, and they aren't in any hurry to help slaughter their meal-ticket.

I wonder what percentage of business weed related crime provides for our venerable DEA?

My guess is that particular agency would be a LOT smaller if weed was rescheduled.

Goodwithoutgod
Goodwithoutgod

@jamessavik 5% OF WORLDS POPULATION 25% OF THE WORLDS PRISON POPULATION, 1 IN 4 AA MALES IN SOME STEP OF THE PRISON PROCESS = THE RICH GET RICHER, THE POOR ARE PACIFIED OR IMPRISONED, THE MIDDLE CLASS PAY FOR IT.

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