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Survey: 9 In 10 Texans Want Pot Decriminalized

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The DFW chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a group that supports legalizing pot in the Lone Star State (and nationwide) has put up a billboard in support of its cause.

Some people may call it a "sign of the times," after the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado two years ago.

Stores selling marijuana for recreational use have taken Colorado by storm. And a recent Progress Texas survey taken by 9,000 people showed 92 percent of Texans are in support of legalizing the drug.

"If you can tax it, make some revenue, seems efficient. As time goes, it keeps progressing.  If it works, it works. I don't see what's the harm in it," said Tessa McGlynn of Garland.

In the same survey, 93 percent of participants living in the state said they support de-criminalizing marijuana. Thus, non-violent pot users wouldn't face jail time as they currently do.

"I do believe in the decriminalization of it. You're holding up a lot of space that could be filled up with a lot of other people," said Erik Gromacki of Farmers Branch.

Although many people support decriminalizing marijuana, that doesn't mean they favor legalizing the drug. People such as Becca Crowell, who has run the Nexus Recovery Center in Dallas for women for 24 years is one of them. She said she fears legalizing pot will increase the number of addicts. Of the 2,000 addicts they treat each year, Crowell said as many as three of four started using drugs with marijuana.

"Over and over again, we hear the stories about people smoking pot and drinking, and that has to be a part of the conversation -- smoking pot and drinking alcohol, before you know it, they're full blown addicts."

Other people who spoke to CBS 11 News echoed her sentiment.

"Does marijuana lead to other heavier drug use because if that's the case, we probably need to stop it earlier rather than later," said Chris Stephens of Richardson.

According to the Progress Texas survey, 98 percent of participants questioned also support legalizing marijuana in Texas for medical purposes. UT Dallas professor Robert Morris just published the first of its kind study on states that legalized medical marijuana.

"We found no increase in the crime rate on the state level for states that passed legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes," said Morris. But now that the study's results were released, he said it's up to Texans to figure out how to act  -- if at all.

Most law enforcement groups continue to strongly oppose legalizing marijuana or any drug for any purpose.

Follow Jack on Twitter:  @cbs11jack

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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