A new poll indicates two out of three Texans support marijuana legalization as a way to generate funding for K-12 education in the state.
Of the 1,034 Texans who responded to the survey questions, 64 percent said they were in favor of legalizing and taxing cannabis if some of the proceeds went toward public school funding. The poll, carried out by Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation, canvassed public opinion on a variety of education-related topics, and found support for using cannabis taxes to bolster funding for public schools is at the same level as that for using alcoholic beverage taxes for the same purpose.
Broken down by political affiliation, around half of Texas Republicans support the measure, as do 66 percent of moderates. Support jumps to 71 percent among independents, while more than 75 percent of Democrats back using marijuana legalization to help fund public schools in Texas.
More respondents favored legalizing and taxing cannabis sales than increasing taxes on a range of other products, services and corporate revenues. These include taxing sugary drinks, raising corporation tax, taxing hotel users and motor vehicle owners. Other options that proved more popular than taxing legal marijuana sales include allowing casino gambling (66 percent), raising tobacco taxes (77 percent) and introducing a new tax on vaping products (78 percent).
Commenting on the survey results, Heather Fazio of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy said, “Texans are ready for marijuana legalization. Sensible regulation and reasonable tax rates will give us our best shot at bringing the market for cannabis into the light of day, protecting consumers and disempowering cartels.”
Based on an analysis published last year, Texas could raise upwards of $500 million per year if it legalized adult-use cannabis and adopted similar rules and regulations governing the legal market as Colorado has done. But while a majority of Texans support legalizing marijuana, Republican lawmakers in the Senate have successfully blocked legalization and decriminalization proposals over the years.
There are, however, indications that the current legislative session could be different, particularly with regards to expanding access to medical marijuana. Texas lawmakers prefiled 13 marijuana reform bills last month, including two measures to legalize recreational cannabis sales.
Lawmakers’ inaction on marijuana reform in Texas coupled with the federal passage of the 2019 Farm Bill – which legalized hemp – has led to a de facto cannabis decriminalization policy among some of the state’s law enforcement institutions. State prosecutors dropped cases of suspected marijuana possession as law enforcement didn’t have the capacity to test suspected cannabis and definitively prove it’s not hemp. The state’s largest law enforcement agency, the Texas Department of Safety, then instructed officers not to arrest individuals for low-level marijuana offenses for the same reason.