One of the most common marijuana legalization related questions that I get is ‘when will Texas legalize marijuana?’ It’s a logical question, considering how many people get arrested for marijuana in Texas, and how harsh their marijuana laws are. In Texas, selling more than 7 grams of marijuana is a felony, punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Selling marijuana to a minor carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. I understand that people shouldn’t be selling marijuana to minors, but what if someone is an 18 year old senior in high school and they sell to someone in their class that hasn’t turned 18 yet? 20 years in prison?
Possession of over 4 grams of hash can also result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Manufacturing or delivering even 1 gram of hash also results in a similar penalty. Want to fake a piss test to get a job in Texas? Falsifying a drug test in Texas is a crime, punishable by up to 180 days in jail. It’s not hard to see why people in Texas are eager to legalize marijuana.
Unfortunately for Texans, Texas does not have a citizen initiative process. Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana via the initiative process, which allows people to gather signatures to put legalization on the ballot. That’s also how Oregon and Alaska were able to get legalization on the ballot this year (and likely DC!). With no legalization initiative process in Texas, the only way to legalize would be through the Texas Legislature.
So to answer the question ‘when will Texas legalize marijuana,’ I pose the question ‘how marijuana friendly is the Texas Legislature?’ I don’t live in Texas, and I’m not intimately knowledgeable of local politicians in Texas. However, from what I can tell from afar, Texas politicians are very conservative, which doesn’t bode well for marijuana reform efforts. Texas might have to wait until the federal government legalizes marijuana nationwide before people stop getting arrested for marijuana in the Lone Star State.
If you want to get marijuana legalized in Texas, the only way is to pressure your Legislature to do so, or wait for federal reform. Either way, it’s not promising, but you can only do what you can do. Call your legislator early and often. Send them studies that show how harmful marijuana prohibition is. They can’t ignore you forever, and it only takes your time, not money. With enough pressure, they will have to do what’s right and take a new approach.