The Texas Tribune, in those infamous polls of dubious reliability, has released a new assessment of the popularity of cannabis in this State. The poll was also worded in a rather lame way, with loaded terms that stack the odds against legalization proponents.
Specifically, 17% of those surveyed said they would support “legal, in any amount, for any purpose.” A further 32% supported “legal, in small amounts, for any purpose.” 28% said they would only support medicinal marijuana, with only a mere 23% saying they opposed marijuana in all cases. This result, however, is somewhat misleading for a few reasons. First, there was some individuals who believe in decriminalization for small amounts while still remaining highly skeptical of medicinal cannabis. Second, the 17% noted opposing all relaxation likely inordinately represent those voting in Republican primaries. While it would probably be an oversimplification to say a majority of the GOP primary electorate is unequivocally anti-pot, they are a significant enough block that prospective candidate would not like to alienate them.
For whatever reason, the Tribune’s analysis tried to tie unpopularity among the likely electorate on pot to Kinky Friedman’s tough luck with “Democratic elites.” That is not even close to being true, but I’ll have a featured article in The Daily Texan on Monday morning about it, so I will not let the cat out of the bag just yet.
For what it is worth, Public Policy Polling surveyed the State last October, wherein it found 58% of recipients supported legalization. Given PPP’s track record when compared to the Tribune’s, I would not give a second thought to the second pollster. As some witty journalists told me at a primary election watch party, the “Tribune poll ain’t worth the fictional paper it ain’t printed on.”
The cannabis-legalization issue has always struck me as particularly perplexing. Instead of a typical left-right paradigm issue, I have always thought the issue would be ends meeting in the middle. When it comes to drug legalization, there are typically two camps of proponents. First, the left-wing social views adherent, such as myself, comes to mind. Perhaps it is a libertarian ideology, perhaps it is being raised by Baby Boomers, but I seriously do not see the big deal with people who take things that are bad for themselves and themselves alone. Tobacco and Alcohol easily addict and ruin lives, but that does not mean they should be illegal. However, I would say “libertarian”might be an oversimplification, because I do not adhere to those viewpoints on other social issues such as gun ownership.
On the other side of the spectrum are the Ron Paul followers, who think of it more as a fiscal issue. I certainly get that, it is ridiculous how much money is spent locking up non-violent drug offenders. However, this view tends to be an argument for decriminalization, not legalization. Either way, the last holdouts in the inevitable legalization of marijuana will be older centrists.
If you are conservative enough on social issues to believe the arguments about law and order and the immorality of drugs, while also being liberal enough on economic issues to not bat an eye at millions of dollars of government spending, you will be one of those said holdouts. Accordingly, there is a reason that Governor Rick Perry came out in favor of decriminalization before Wendy Davis did.
Off the Kuff has more.