AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texans are changing their minds about medical marijuana. A poll of registered voters in Texas shows 84 percent now support legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.
That’s up eight points from 2015 when the poll asked the same question.
The people who moved the most in the debate over medical marijuana are Republican women, like Amy Lou Fawell.
“Women are nurturing and they’re moms and they have compassion for somebody else who has a child that’s hurting,” said Fawell.
Her 19-year-old son has autism and lives at a residential facility. She wants to change current law and have him take medical cannabis to see if he can come home on the weekends.
“Cannabis is a God-given plant with medicinal purposes like many other God-given plants with medicinal purposes,” said Fawell.
The holdouts according to the UT/Texas Tribune poll are Republican men. Then there’s major opposition from law enforcement.
But attitudes changed after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law allowing for small amounts of CBD oil to be used for fragile children.
This summer, Texas Republicans changed their party platform to support doctors being able to decide if cannabis should be used, making possession a civil violation and taking it off the schedule one list.
“We know that voters take cues from — in part from political leaders,” said James Henson from the Texas Politics Project, who conducted the poll with the Texas Tribune.
He says the experience in other states went a long way to convince women and money minded Republicans.
“It started in terms of tax revenue, kind of raining money in Colorado after marijuana legalization,” said Henson.
Texas lawmakers could soon make a change when they return to the Capitol in January.
We spoke with El Paso State Rep. Joe Moody, the Democrat who’s a major driver behind this push. He tells us his goal next year would be to make marijuana possession a “civil penalty,” similar to a city fine.
The call to loosen laws on medical marijuana goes beyond Texas. Just last night, voters in Oklahoma approved a ballot issue that makes it legal to grow, sell and use medicinal marijuana.
Oklahoma health officials will meet in two weeks to consider emergency rules to make sure the drug is only used for medical purposes.
But a lot of Texans want recreational marijuana to be legal. The University of Texas-Texas Tribune Poll shows more than half of Texas voters approve legalizing at least small amounts of marijuana.
That’s up more than 10 points from the same poll in 2015. Nearly a quarter now say there should be no restrictions on the drug.