Two in three Texans support legalizing marijuana to boost revenue for K-12 education in the state, according to a new poll.
The survey, which involved interviews with 1,034 Texas adults, looked at public opinion on a wide range of education-related issues. One question asked respondents whether they support or oppose using revenue from cannabis legalization in order to “provide additional funding for Texas K-12 public schools.”
Sixty-four percent said they’re in favor of that proposal, compared to 35 percent who said they were against it. That’s the same level of support as for alcoholic beverage taxes.
When compiling responses from only those who are parents of K-12 students, the same share, 64 percent, back using marijuana revenue to fund education.
About half of Republicans and conservatives, 66 percent of moderates, 71 percent of independents and more than three-quarters of Democrats and liberals said they support legalization for increased school funding.
Overall, more Texans support funding education by legalizing cannabis than using other revenue options such as increasing the sales tax, putting a new tax on sugary drinks or raising taxes on corporations, hotel occupancy or motor vehicles. The only options that proved more popular than marijuana legalization were allowing casino gambling, increasing tobacco taxes and enacting a new tax on vaping.
“These new poll results reaffirm what many of us have known for some time: Texans are ready for marijuana legalization,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told Marijuana Moment.
“As we move forward, it’s important to balance our desire to generate revenue with our desire to stamp out the underground market,” she said. “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.”
Numerous states that have enacted legalization have earmarked cannabis tax dollars for education, and Texas stands to raise a significant amount of revenue that could be used for that purpose if it follows suit, an analysis released last year found. It estimated that the state could raise more than $1.1 billion in marijuana tax revenue per biennium if it followed Colorado’s model.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) stressed during his State of the State address on Tuesday that his budget proposal “ensures marijuana tax dollars will continue to fund education, to ensure districts can meet the needs of students during the pandemic and beyond.”
But passing marijuana reform in Texas has proven to be an onerous task, with Republican lawmakers having historically blocked or defeated legalization proposals.
That said, leaders in both chambers of the legislature have recently indicated that they anticipate more modest proposals to be taken up and potentially approved this session, particularly as it concerns expanding the state’s limited medical cannabis program.
House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) said he thinks “the House will look at” reform measures this year, including bills to legalize for adult use. He said the lawmakers will likely “review those again, and some will get traction, some will not.” However, the Senate remains an obstacle for comprehensive reform.
Legislators in the state prefiled more than a dozen pieces of cannabis legislation ahead of the new session. That includes bills that would legalize recreational marijuana, allow high-THC cannabis for medical use and decriminalize low-level possession of marijuana.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), who presides over the Senate, has killed prior efforts to enact reform in the state, raising questions about the prospects of far-reaching changes advancing in the chamber. After the House approved a cannabis decriminalization bill in 2019, Patrick was quick to declare the proposal dead in the Senate.