Tuesday, November 16, 2004

75% of Texans Support Medical Pot

Seventy five percent of Texans believe patients should be allowed to use marijuana medicinally if their doctor agrees, the 900-person Texas Poll found. Reported the Statesman (registration required):

"The telephone poll showed that Texans supported medical marijuana use regardless of age, income, ethnicity, race, education and gender. Some regions of the state were more supportive than others, with East Texas favoring it the least, at 62 percent, and Central Texas the most, with 83 percent supporting medical marijuana use. Republicans also were less enthusiastic, with 67 percent favoring it, compared with 81 percent of Democratic respondents and 82 percent of independents.

"Adults ages 18 to 29 favored it the most, at 81 percent, while those in the 40- to 49-year-old group favored it the least, at 70 percent. Seventy-two percent of those 60 and older favored it."

Austin state representative Terry Keel carried medical marijuana legislation two sessions ago, but the bill never got out of the House. Since then, though, public opinion has shifted, and today nearly everyone supports legalizing medical pot. The Texas Poll question was commissioned by our friends at Texans for Medical Marijuana, but the Statesman quoted a highly regarded medical professional who concurred with the public judgment:

"Dr. Richard Evans, president of the Texas Cancer Center in Houston, is not one of those doctors. As a medical adviser to Texans for Medical Marijuana, a nonprofit group that educates cancer patients, he would recommend pot to his cancer patients if it were legal, he said.

"Marijuana has been known to ease nausea from chemotherapy, eye pressure from glaucoma and muscle spasms from neurological disorders, Evans said. It also stimulates appetite in the sick, he said.

"Evans has testified about marijuana's benefits before legislative committees, but so far, no bills have passed either house.

"[TMM executive director Noelle] Davis said she was confident her organization would get a sponsor for the upcoming session, which starts in January. However, the group has been turned down because some lawmakers worry the issue is too unpopular.

"Davis is optimistic the poll will change that. "We hope for strong bipartisan support and the poll shows Texans support this."

She pointed out that Montana, which backed President Bush in the presidential election Nov. 2, also voted to legalize the use of medical marijuana."

Actually, medical marijuana was more popular than President Bush in Montana, and at 75% approval, it's more popular than any politician in Texas today, including the President. If the Texas Legislature cares at all about what the public wants, they've got an opportunity to prove it next spring.

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