Poll finds 75% of Texans support medical marijuana

November 17, 2004

Todd Ackerman, Houston Chronicle

A strong majority of Texans favor legalizing the medical use of marijuana, according to a new poll.

Seventy-five percent said people with cancer and other serious illnesses should be allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes as long as their doctor approves, according to a Scripps Howard Texas poll question commissioned by Texans for Medical Marijuana. Nineteen percent said they would oppose such a bill.

'I'm surprised support is that high,' said Dr. Richard Evans, president of the Texas Cancer Center and medical adviser to Texans for Medical Marijuana. 'That should help when we next testify before the Legislature.'

Bills that would have legalized the medical use of marijuana have been introduced in the last four sessions of the Texas Legislature but have never passed. Evans said he expects legislation again will be introduced in 2005.

Marijuana is considered to have some therapeutic uses, particularly the relief of nausea suffered by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. As a result, 11 states, most of them in the West, have legalized its medical use.

In a report on the medical use of marijuana earlier this year, a committee of the Texas Medical Association called for more research into whether seriously ill patients would benefit from marijuana. It also said doctors should have the freedom to discuss with patients all treatment options, including marijuana, without fear of regulatory or criminal sanctions. It did not take a position on whether Texas should legalize marijuana's medical use.

The chairman of the TMA committee could not be reached for his reaction to the poll.

The telephone poll found Democrats were more supportive of medical marijuana than Republicans — 81 percent to 67 percent; and adults 18 to 29 favored it the most, at 81 percent, while those in their 40s favored it the least, at 70 percent. Seventy-two percent of those 60 and older favored it.

The marijuana question was part of the fall 2004 Texas Poll and was asked of 900 adult Texans by telephone Oct. 11-28. The margin of error is 3.3 percentage points.

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