Legislature is pushing for Texas cannabis legalization bill to celebrate April 20th
With nearly a dozen pot policy reform bills currently under scrutiny in Texas legislature, Democratic MP James Talarico took advantage of Tuesday’s high holiday of 420 to advance his latest move in promoting cannabis legalization in Texas. While the cannabis community was celebrating the plant’s celebration, Talarico reached out to social media to share the news about a bill he submitted last month.
“Happy 4/20! I’ve filed laws to legalize cannabis, overturn previous marijuana convictions, and use the new tax revenue to fund early childhood education, ”Talarico tweeted Tuesday.
To back up his efforts to legalize cannabis in Texas, he shared public opinion data collected by the Texas Tribune in a recent poll and tweeted, “This is a popular bipartisan idea. According to the latest poll, 60% of Texans support full legalization of marijuana. Only 13% said it should be completely illegal. “
The Texas Representative also noted that people have enjoyed the health benefits of cannabis for more than 3,000 years and that the herb can be used to treat a variety of ailments including chronic pain, depression, and addiction. Talarico also announced that the widespread notion that cannabis is a gateway to more dangerous substances has been thoroughly invalidated.
“In fact, medical research suggests that alcohol and tobacco are far more dangerous to our health than cannabis,” he wrote.
Talarico also said that legalizing cannabis is part of ending the racist war on drugs that continue to target color communities, tweeting that “Black Americans are four times more likely than white Americans to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite both groups using marijuana the same rate. “
Can Texas Cannabis Legalization Act Succeed?
On March 12, Talarico introduced House Bill 4089 to the Texas House of Representatives. On his 4/20 Twitter thread, he said the move is “one of many major marijuana reform bills” tabled for the current term.
A total of nine cannabis policy reforms have been submitted to lawmakers, although full legalization laws like Talarico’s in Texas are likely to be difficult to sell. But other laws that would reduce penalties for owning marijuana or expand the state’s limited medical cannabis program could get more support from lawmakers.
Heather Fazio, the director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, noted that a recent survey by the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs found that only 14% of Texans support the state’s current cannabis possession laws. She said many voters would prefer to spend limited government resources on more serious problems.
“We see that a majority of Texas voters would rather see law enforcement and public safety resources for victims of real crime,” said Fazio.
In addition to the new Texas cannabis legalization bill, a decriminalization bill was passed earlier this month that would make possession of up to an ounce of cannabis a Class C offense that can only be punished with a fine. Under this law, law enforcement officers would not be allowed to make arrests on poor property cases. Fazio said such reform of cannabis policy will help eliminate the negative effects of arrests for minor marijuana crimes that can affect access to employment and social services.
“We see so many people still being arrested, prosecuted and handicapped by convictions that have permanent security ramifications,” she said.
Another measure under consideration aims to expand the state medical cannabis program, which currently only allows low-THC CBD oil for patients with a limited number of qualification requirements. This bill “would expand the program by adding qualifying conditions and allowing access to 5 percent THC, which is more of a higher dose of medicinal cannabis,” said Fazio.
Although the bills are backed by two parties in the House of Representatives, they face a tougher challenge in the Texas Senate. Republican Governor Dan Patrick, who chairs the upper body of the state parliament, killed several previous cannabis reform bills that made it to the Senate.