“As a Christian, I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same. In fact, it’s for this reason that I’m especially cautious when it comes to laws banning plants. I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix… Civil government should value everything God made and leave people alone unless they meddle with their neighbor,” Texas State Representative David Simpson, the tea party stalwart who has repeatedly championed what he calls the “Christian case for legalization,” wrote in the Texas Tribune, in March of 2015.
On May 6th, Texas lawmakers took the first step towards legalizing marijuana. The state’s House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee voted 5-2 in favor of legislation sponsored by Simpson that would legalize marijuana in Texas.
At present you can be jailed for up to 180 days and/or slapped with a $2,000 fine for possessing up to two ounces of cannabis in Texas. If you hold between two and four ounces, you would be jailed for a year and/or slapped with $4,000 fine. All marijuana violators lose their licenses for six months. The sale of weed to a minor is a third-degree felony offense and can put the violator in jail for anywhere from 2 to 20 years, and cost the possessor $10,000 in penalties. Medical use of marijuana is also banned in the state. The proposed legislation would completely wipe marijuana from state text and end overall regulatory oversight of the substance.
— Jerome McCollom (@HumanistPundit) May 9, 2015
A ten-year veteran of law enforcement comes out in support of decriminalizing marijuana in Texas. https://t.co/xOE2NSQBW1
— MPP Marijuana Policy (@MarijuanaPolicy) May 12, 2015
— MPP Marijuana Policy (@MarijuanaPolicy) May 13, 2015
Heather Fazio, Texas Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement: “Marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered in the Lone Star State. Texas voters recognize that punishing adults for consuming a substance that is safer than alcohol is a waste of law enforcement resources and an affront to individual liberty. It appears most of the committee members agree. State officials are increasingly becoming fed up with the failed federal government policy of marijuana prohibition, and they’re taking action. Like most Americans, most Texans are ready for a more sensible, fiscally sound.”
Simpson’s legislation still faces a lot of hurdles before it can become a law, nevertheless, the fact that his bill advanced shows us that the state’s views on marijuana are changing. Nearly three out of five Texas voters (58%) support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol, according to a state-wide survey conducted by Public Policy Polling in September 2013. Four states have adopted laws that regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. Two of them, Colorado and Washington, have established regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and sales. Alaska and Oregon are in the process of implementing similar systems.
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