In the recently conducted elections, a number of states legalized the use of marijuana for different reasons: some for medical needs and others for recreational purposes. Apparently, these recent developments have been a huge motivation for other states struggling with marijuana laws. Could Texas be among these states that have been pushing for the decriminalization of marijuana over the years? Well, there is every sign to agree to this predisposition. Even before the dust could settle down, the Harris County District Attorney, Kim Ogg is hitting the road again to fight for the legalization of marijuana immediately after, she takes office. In her pursuit of reforms on offences, marijuana-related cases take center stage. She felt that offenders for non-violent crimes, particularly on weed should not go to jail.
Looking at what has happened in states where Marijuana has been decriminalized and seeing the tax revenue and lack of crime, makes this move much easier for Texas to consider. However, we can only wait and see how things will unfold. District Attorney Ogg deeply believes that people shouldn’t have a permanent record, for a small offense such as smoking Marijuana. This came out clearly in the wake of marijuana reforms and especially looking back at how marijuana-related cases have been handled across America in the past. Currently, state lawmakers in Texas have filed six marijuana-related bills. Most of these bills are targeting the lessening of punishment for individuals caught with small portions of the drug. Ideally, the movement is in a way, seeking the legalization of Cannabis but, that is yet to be established.
Texas Bills Seeking Reforms on Marijuana
A number of bills have been drafted by Texas state lawmakers in search of reforms on marijuana. House Bill 58 is one of the bills that aims at creating a specialty court for offenders found in possession of marijuana for the first time. Also, to be recognized, the House Bill 81 seeks to replace criminal fines with civil penalties for anyone caught with the possession of an ounce of cannabis. Next is the House Bill 82 that seeks to classify the possession of any amount of marijuana up to an ounce, as a Class C crime rather than a Class B crime. Well, there is still the Senate Joint Resolution 17 that gives the voters a chance to decide whether to legalize marijuana in the state of Texas. There is a lot more on this with Senate Joint Resolution 18 meant to give voters an opportunity to decide on whether to use cannabis for medical reasons or not. Per the Texas Tribune, Senate Bill 170 proposes to change the laws, in regards to being in possession of a small portion of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, to a civil crime.
Is Texas Following the Trend on Marijuana Reforms?
Majority believe that the developments taking place in Texas are spurred by what has been seen in several other states during the 2016 election. One drug policy professional, Katherine Neill is among those who strongly believe that Texas is emulating the changes that have been realized in such places as California, Nevada and Massachusetts among others. For Texas, they have not yet legalized medical marijuana and seeing others legalize the herb for recreational use could prompt lawmakers to wake up and enjoy the extra tax’s and benefits that come with these bills. Per Neill, Trump’s presidency has a major role to play, in the success or failure of marijuana laws, in individual states and federally. There has been a lot of resistance in the past and for the advocates of marijuana reforms, they can only hope that the republican leadership can give them the support that they need.
With much hope in the decriminalization of medical marijuana, advocates believe that Texas is going to make a huge step towards marijuana reforms. There is a good chance of seeing this happen in Texas, based on what others States have been able to achieve in recent times. Those in support of marijuana legalization in Texas have already expressed support for these bills. Representatives are being pushed by their supporters to push forward these marijuana bills and should they hear their voice, then that would be a great milestone for Texas Marijuana activists. At least, choosing to place the item on the ballot would create room for voters to make decisions about the medical legalization. More than that, discussions on marijuana will arise and lead to meaningful conclusions regarding its future. These were some of the sentiments shared by Jason Miller from NORML.
Well, there is no problem with Texas legalizing cannabis use because some states have already done so. However, the question is when this will take place and how the regulatory structure and the licensing procedures will be. With the push for such reforms, the leadership has a big say on what happens. The biggest challenge has been, getting the issues on the ballot. Once they get there, then the people can decide. Whatever the result might be, it provides room for meaningful discussions that will lead to future developments.