It’s not likely in this Legislature, but polls show times and opinions are changing
Cannabis legislation is popping up like seedlings in states across the nation because public opinion polls show most Americans support the decriminalization of marijuana for a variety of reasons.
A Gallup poll in late 2014 showed 51 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana, down from a high of 58 percent in 2013 but still above the 50 percent mark reached in 2011 and 2012. The upward trend reflected a dramatic change from nearly a half-century ago, in 1969, when only 12 percent of adults favored the drug’s legalization.
The figure jumped to 28 percent in the late 1970s and to 34 percent by 2003.
The poll showed that support for the legalization of marijuana appeared to be the strongest in the eastern and western states. But a similar poll conducted by The University of Texas and the Texas Tribune indicated 76 percent of the Lone Star State’s residents favor some sort of marijuana legalization.
Federal law prohibits the growing, marketing, possession and use of marijuana, but federal officials are not interfering in states where laws are passed permitting the medical use of marijuana and decriminalization.
House Bill 2165 introduced by Rep. David Simpson, a Republican from Longview in Northeast Texas, would put an end to Texas’ century-old prohibition of marijuana. After he filed the bill, Simpson wrote in an editorial published by the Texas Tribune, “I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.”
The legislator said marijuana should be regulated in the same manner as popular Texas vegetables like tomatoes and jalapeno peppers.
Lifelong Republican Ann Lee, an 85-year-old who formed Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, noted the cannabis laws conflict with the Republican Party’s views on promoting personal freedom and restricting government regulation. She praised Simpson’s bill saying, “It’s true saying that prohibition doesn’t work, and we need to rectify if possible the harm that has been done.”
There are now about a dozen pieces of marijuana legislation pending in the Texas Legislature that would either legalize medical use of cannabis or reduce the penalties for possession of the drug.
The House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence recently heard from supporters and opponents of reducing penalties for marijuana possession and legalization. Opponents argued any sort of tolerance of the drug would …Read More