State legislature approves incremental moves towards the decriminalization of marijuana in future sessions
Matt Olson, Copy Editor
Though progress is slow-going, legalized marijuana may be coming to Texas. Last year’s legislative session saw multiple bills related to marijuana legalization – one in favor of full legalization, which did not pass, and several related to medical use.
One bill, the Compassionate Use Act, was successfully passed. According to www.texasobserver.com, the bill allows for the sale and use of cannabidiol, an extracted oil with low amounts of THC that aids in the treatment of epilepsy. However, sales of cannabidiol will not likely start until 2017, as licensed dispensaries – as well as rules and regulations for these dispensaries – have not yet been established.
Though the Compassionate Use Act does not indicate that broad-sweeping legalization is imminent, supporters of marijuana legalization believe that the bill – as well as the additional proposed legislation – indicates progress.
Supporters of legalization suggest that taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana will help the state earn revenue. In this regard, marijuana legalization has been successful in Colorado. As of mid-March, the state had collected nearly $70 million in taxes collected from the sale of marijuana, more than it had earned for taxes collected from the sale of alcohol, according to www.texasobserver.com.
Opponents of legalization suggest that decriminalizing marijuana will only decrease crime related to possession and use while traffic deaths and other crime will increase. However, articles on www.drugpolicy.org argue that these fears are not the case for Colorado or Washington in the years following marijuana legalization.
Opponents also argue about the effect that marijuana legalization will have on children. These arguments are not unfounded – according to www.denverpost.com, a 2015 report by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area marijuana use amongst Colorado high school students is said to have increased over the past several years. The statistics have been disputed by legalization activists, who claim RMHIDTA has political motivations in addition to using unfounded data.
Marijuana still remains illegal in the state of Texas for both medical and recreational uses, and even if a legalization bill passes, the drug will not become legal until a date clarified in the legislation.