Is Texas ready for statewide candidate who wants to legalize marijuana?
Two years ago, it took a tough legislative fight to pass a medical marijuana bill that allowed for the use of cannabis oil to fight epilepsy. But attitudes toward marijuana seem to be shifting. Harris County started a new diversion program to essentially decriminalize marijuana, and an University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released in February found that public opinion on the subject has changed dramatically in the past year. In 2015, only 32 percent of those surveyed said marijuana should be legal; this year, 53 percent said it should be legal for most uses.
Now, Texas has what would have been unthinkable just a few years ago: a statewide candidate for U.S. Senate who wants to reform federal law to end the prohibition on marijuana and regulate its sale like alcohol. Beto O’Rourke has pushed this ever since he served on the El Paso city council during a time when the sister city of Juárez was known as the murder capital of the world. Along with fellow council member Susie Byrd, O’Rourke wrote Dealing Death and Drugs, a book arguing for the legalization of marijuana to undermine the finances of the drug cartels.
O’Rourke, who has been representing El Paso in Congress since 2013, is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, hoping to challenge the re-election of incumbent Senator Ted Cruz. U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro of San Antonio is also eyeing the Democratic nomination, while former