Society

Texas Lawmakers Will Consider Legalizing Pot

| by Allison Geller

Texas may soon welcome more relaxed marijuana laws as two state lawmakers promise to reintroduce marijuana reform laws.

KHOU reported that marijuana legislation in states like Colorado and Washington have prompted Texas State Rep. Harold Dutton Jr. and Rep. Elliott Naishtat to throw their support behind liberalizing marijuana laws in the 2015 legislative session.

Dutton will try his bill to lessen penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana for the fourth time, while Naishtat will make his seventh bid to get a medical marijuana bill on the House floor.

“We made a little bit of progress every session. Last session for the first time we had a hearing on the bill,” said Naishtat. “And it was very compelling because the people who testified were people with legitimate medical conditions who were using marijuana specifically for medical purposes.

“All the publicity that’s been focused on the state of Washington and Colorado only helps us in what we’re trying to do,” he added.

Nathan Jones, Ph.D. with Rice University’s Baker Institute, projects that legalization will happen, but not before five or ten years are up.

“If you’re looking at the polling data it looks pretty electable. Or it looks almost inevitable,” he said.

Cheyanne Weldon, head of the Texas Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told WOAI the Colorado experiment will set an important precedent for marijuana reform in Texas.

"Is there an increase in stoned driving and accidents, or has there been a decrease in violence and accidents, those types of things," she said, pointing out that lawmakers are waiting to see if those consequences are greater than the tax benefits the state stands to reap by legalizing weed.

That promise of revenue may be the deciding factor in Texas, as well as the libertarian streak that runs through Texas politics.

"And that libertarian tendency is suggesting that a legal market that the government can essentially regulate would be better than leaving it in the hands of organized crime," said Jones.

Texas pot enthusiasts may have something to celebrate, provided they're willing to wait. 

Sources: KHOU, WOAI