Not Blowing Smoke: Pro-Pot Movement Continues in Texas


The legal marijuana movement continues to gain momentum, as five states moved to legalize recreational marijuana use in this week's elections, joining 11 other states and D.C. which already did so in recent years. The movement has not taken hold in Texas, with efforts to legalize or decriminalize pot failing in recent legislatures. But advocates believe the national momentum, combined with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, makes this a good time to renew their efforts in the Lone Star State.

"We saw several bills having to do with legalization last (legislative) session, and I already know of a few legislators that plan to offer more for this session," says Jax Finkel, Executive Director of the pro-legalization group Texas NORML.

Finkel tells KTRH she doesn't expect full legalization yet, but decriminalization is a more likely place to start. "I think there's gonna be robust conversation about decriminalizing possession of the plant," she says. "Because many people are tourists from states where it is legal or they are a patient, and some of them are getting arrested here in Texas, and that's bad for tourism."

Texas, with its conservative bent and years of Republican control, has been slow to embrace the pro-pot movement, but Finkel believes that is changing. "Legislators are starting to understand more about the plant and that it's not plutonium," she says. "It's simply a plant that has therapeutic value, like many other products that people consume."

Beyond the therapeutic value, the biggest argument for legalization might be economic. "If we implement a retail adult-use cannabis program in Texas, it's estimated the tax revenue every biennium would be 1.1 billion dollars," says Finkel.

The Texas legislative session begins in January.


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