Texas is changing its mind about cannabis

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Texas is changing its mind about cannabis

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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

Sen. Ted Cruz is facing a close Senate race against his opponent Beto O’Rourke this year, and a topic that has been discussed widely during this race is the legalization of cannabis. O’Rourke is a strong supporter of legalization, while Cruz opposes legalization. Cruz does, however, see it as a states’ rights issue.

“I want to end the war on drugs and specifically want to end the prohibition on marijuana,” O’Rourke said during his first debate with Cruz. O’Rourke has regularly highlighted how the War on Drugs has disproportionately harmed people of color, and he said during the debate that veterans should be able to get medical cannabis instead of having to use opioids for their ailments.

“Texans currently support medical cannabis by 84% as well as the legalization of adult use cannabis by 53%. Governor Abbott recently voiced his support in reduction of penalties for possession,” Jax Finkel, executive director of NORML’s Texas office, told Cannabis News Box. “Texans are solidly behind reform of these laws.”

Finkel said it’s probably going to be a while before Texas decides to legalize social use cannabis, but the idea appears to be growing in popularity. Once enough Texans are behind legalization, he said it’s likely lawmakers will get behind it.

“Our legislative cycles are 140 days every 2 years. Our next opportunity to press our legislators for reform will be in January of this year,” Finkel said. “There is solid support for penalty reduction among our state legislators. With 78 legislators signing onto a bill to make the Texas Compassionate Use Program more inclusive, there is going to be a lot of discussion on how to improve the program. I anticipate that we will see more medical freedom for the patients of Texas.”

Texas currently has a limited medical cannabis program, and advocates have been fighting to expand the number of conditions covered by the program and the number of people generally who can gain access to the program. Finkel and others plan to fight for this long after the midterms.

“We would like to see the program go from one qualifying condition to being more inclusive for patients with debilitating conditions,” he said. “We would also like to see the caps on THC and CBD percentage in the medicine removed. Additionally, adding third-party testing and fixing the flawed prescription language of the bill.”

It’s unclear who will win in Texas’ senate race this November, but what is clear is that O’Rourke has elevated the topic of legalization in the state. If Texas legalizes, that will mean the two most populated states in America, Texas and California, will have legalized social use cannabis.