Marijuana Moves Mainstream in Texas

   

Marijuana moves mainstream in Texas!?! In Texas?!? Are we really talking about Texas? Yes, we certainly are talking about Texas and when Tea Party politicians in the Lone Star State are advocating for an end to cannabis prohibition, you know that marijuana has gone mainstream and legalization is completely inevitable. Although legalization is inevitable, there is still a lot of work left to be done in Texas and across the country, so this isn’t the time for cannabis law reform advocates to let off the pedal.

Now is the time to work harder than ever before because the political establishment and prohibitionists across the country aren’t letting up–they will continue to pull out all the stops to maintain their Reefer Madness policies. However, it is important for advocates to celebrate all victories, large and small, so it is nice to see a Texas State House committee vote to approve a measure to end cannabis prohibition, even though the bill is unlikely to pass through the entire Texas Legislature. The Dallas Morning News reports:

A House committee voted to approve a proposal Wednesday that would remove all mention of marijuana from criminal statutes. The measure by conservative Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, is the first of its kind in Texas, and many are surprised by its progress.

When Simpson filed the bill in March, he said “God did not make a mistake when he made marijuana that the government needs to fix.”

Pot backers called the vote an “important step” to eventually ending marijuana prohibition. The approved measure was amended to make it a Class C misdemeanor to sell marijuana to minors.

Texas, without an initiative process, will likely take a while to legalize cannabis, but this bi-partisan committee vote demonstrates that marijuana has gone mainstream as a political issue in Texas and we should see more and more legislators agree that cannabis prohibition has been a harmful disaster. Alaska broke the mold and passed legalization via an initiative as the conservative state with a libertarian bent became the first “red” state to legalize marijuana. Florida’s medical marijuana ballot measure, garnering 58% of the vote, just 2% shy of victory in the Sunshine State and Arkansas’ 2012 medical marijuana’s initiative barely lost at the ballot box, securing 49% of the vote. Ohio is looking to legalize marijuana in 2015 or 2016 and my birth state of Missouri is on the short list of 2016 states as well, so marijuana could be moving more into the mainstream in the Midwest very soon.

With cannabis icon Willie Nelson; Super Bowl winner and Pro Bowler Mark Stepnoski; Brian Cuban, the brother of Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban; and University of Texas Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams are all prominent cannabis law reformers with Texas ties and such prominent voices, joined by Texas Tea Party conservative David Simpson will only advance the cause for cannabis freedom in the Lone Star State. Heck, even former Texas Governor Rick Perry has signaled support for decriminalization and stated that states should make their own decisions on marijuana. Also, Dallas/Fort Worth NORML is one of the top local marijuana law reform groups in the country. Once seen as potentially on the short list of the last states that would legalize marijuana, it is great to see Texas helping move marijuana more and more into the mainstream.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.