Like many of its Southern counterparts, the State of Texas has long been established as prohibitionist and anti-weed.
Nevertheless, citizens on both sides of the party line have continuously expressed their desire for the legalization of marijuana, and many state representatives feel the same way.
Activists in the state argue that cannabis should be seen as a form of medicine and that personal disapproval of cannabis use should not dictate whether or not a legal recreational market should exist in the state.
Cannabis As Medicine
Despite its Compassionate Use Program, a 2015 policy that permits Texans to ingest low-quantity THC products with a physician’s approval, Texas remains one of the most restricted states in terms of cannabis access.
Republican Sid Miller, Texas Agriculture Commissioner, wants to broaden the program and increase access for Texans in need, regardless of medical prescription.
In a post made on the Texas Department of Agriculture’s website, Miller said that he has seen “firsthand the value of cannabis as medicine.”
“It is my goal next year to expand access to the compassionate use of cannabis products in Texas so that every Texan with a medical need has access to these medicines,” he continued.
Miller expressed open support for legislation that would legalize the cultivation and retail sale of hemp products in Texas in 2019. He is now in charge of hemp planting and processing for the state.
“It is time for all of us, including the Governor, members of the Texas Legislature, and others to come together and set aside our political differences to have an honest conversation about cannabis: where we have been, where we are going, and what role government should properly play,” Miller concluded.
A Bipartisan Issue
Although Republicans have generally been known to disapprove of recreational marijuana use, many members of the party are in favor of the anti-prohibition movement.
In a recent interview with Marijuana Moment, John Baucum, political director of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (RAMP), stated that “Just because you don’t like cannabis, or you wouldn’t want your kids or your husband or whoever to use cannabis, […] doesn’t mean that prohibition is the right answer.”
While Texas’ political environment remains overwhelmingly conservative, cannabis proponents are banking on Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate who supports cannabis legalization and has chastised Republicans who oppose it while using the substance themselves.
O’Rourke participated in a panel at the SXSW Conference in Austin last March, where he let his audience in on a trade secret: “Republicans like to get high just as much as Democrats.”
The Proof Is In The Polls
Despite the state’s restrictive laws, the plant’s popularity has been rising steadily among Texans, with the majority strongly backing recreational cannabis legalization, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Houston and Texas Southern University.
Impressively, 51% of survey respondents who classified themselves as Republicans expressed support for federal marijuana legalization, despite the fact that the majority of reform supporters were Democrats and young people.
More specifically, 79% of Democrats and 70% of independents support the cause.
Changing attitudes toward the legalization of recreational marijuana among state leaders is promising. It’s becoming increasingly clear that public opinion is also evolving with the times and that despite differing opinions, the majority of Texans feel as though a legal recreational cannabis market would be beneficial for the state and its citizens.
As we continue to move forward, it’s important that we take time to reflect on the wise words of John Baucum. Not everything is right for every person. Not every choice is the universal choice. Passing legislation for a recreational market doesn’t have to mean giving up your beliefs. It simply opens up more possibilities for more people.
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