Texas AG candidates Lee Merritt and Beto O’Rourke reaffirm their desires to legalize weed

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The cheering that filled the air during a December rally at downtown Austin’s Republic Square Park grew significantly louder when El Paso Democrat Beto O’Rourke announced what many of his supporters already knew that he wants to legalize cannabis in Texas.

The gubernatorial candidate is renowned for his championing attitude towards the leafy green plant. During his entire political career, which includes a solid stint as a member of the El Paso city council, O’Rourke has steadily pushed for cannabis reform.

His warm attitude towards the prospect of cannabis legalization in Texas was intensified throughout the duration of his previously unsuccessful campaigns for U.S. president and Senate.

“I’ve been warned that this may or may not be a popular thing to say in Austin, Texas,” were the words that O’Rourke spoke to the crowd at Republic Square Park. “But when I am governor, we are going to legalize cannabis.”

O’Rourke’s point of view is steered significantly by his homeland of El Paso – a city that he discusses in great detail in his 2011 book “Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the U.S. and Mexico,” which was co-written alongside El Paso Independent School District trustee and City Council member Susie Byrd.

Texas AG candidate Lee Merritt reiterates support for cannabis

It’s not just O’Rourke who is expressing his openness towards weed but also, Lee Merritt. The competing Democratic candidate for Texas attorney general published a tweet in late December confirming his desires to completely legalize cannabis across the state.  

The nationally recognized civil rights attorney  said he backs cannabis legalization and hopes it will be executed in a manner that “rebuilds black and brown communities” that have been unfairly impacted by drug incarcerations.

Of all the challengers to the existing AG Paxton, Merritt is recognized as the highest-profile Democratic contender. 

“Legalizing cannabis in Texas is going to be economically beneficial for the entire state, but we must do it right. We must do it in a way that is equitable and rebuilds black and brown communities destroyed by the past 50 years of the so-called ‘war on drugs'”, he tweeted.

Texas’ cannabis reform efforts could get a boost thanks to media attention from AG candidates

Thanks to the increased attention from O’Rourke and Merritt, it’s likely that the subject of cannabis legalization in Texas will generate extra interest from lawmakers this year.

Texas is a State with a reputation for being harsh in its approach to drug-related law enforcement. For example, penalties and arrest rates for cannabis possession are among the highest in the nation.

Examples of some other democrats who are hoping to become the next attorney general in Texas include former American Civil Liberties Union attorney Rochelle Garza, former GOP judge at Harris County Criminal Court, Mike Fields, and former mayor of Galveston (who is also a supporter of cannabis legalization in Texas) Joe Jaworski.