What will it take for legal marijuana in Texas?
2012 marked the beginning of the end for the prohibition of marijuana when it was legalized for recreational use in Colorado and Washington state by a majority vote. This then sparked a wave of new marijuana laws across the country, including full legalization in Alaska and the District of Columbia.
Last month, The Texas Compassionate Use Act was made law, making it legal for certain epilepsy patients to use oils containing cannabidiol. The Texas government is now in the process of licensing three dispensing organizations by Fall 2017.
You heard that correctly, the first medical marijuana dispensaries are opening in Texas.
Though they’re limited to three in the entire state and are only accessible to those with epilepsy, when it comes to the end of marijuana prohibition, this is where it starts.
But don’t celebrate just yet. Gov. Greg Abbott still stands against full legalization, and adamantly promises that it won’t happen while he’s governor.
But that’s not all the change that’s been happening. A poll last month shows that 58 percent of Texas voters support the taxation and regulation of marijuana in the state.
This is more than likely the result of the numbers and data coming out of Colorado. So far in 2015, the state collected more than $75 million in tax revenue, doubling the amount collected this time last year.
It’s projected that should Texas legalize and tax marijuana, it could make over $100 million in revenue.
Money and revenue aside, cannabis has been shown in many clinical studies to make positive impacts for those suffering from certain illnesses and mental disorders including HIV, various cancers and those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Unfortunately, studying the plant has proven difficult because of marijuana’s categorization by the DEA as a Schedule I narcotic, which places weed in same status as heroin and peyote. This classification is defined as “(Having) no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision and a high potential for abuse.”
To put that in perspective, meth, cocaine and opium are all Schedule II narcotics.
It has come to the point where it simply doesn’t make sense to keep marijuana illegal. Numerous studies, including one 40 years ago that was commissioned by Richard Nixon, the president who started the War on Drugs, show that marijuana does is not harmful when put in the context of other already legal substances.
There is even data showing that teen use of marijuana is going down in Colorado, despite views of the contrary that more would start smoking it.
Virtually no one in the U.S. has ever died from marijuana. The only way to actually overdose is by smoking your weight in weed, and smoking that much is pretty much impossible.
Though many have tried.
480,000 people die every year in the U.S. from cigarette smoking, with an additional 41,000 people who die from secondhand smoke. Almost 88,000 people die every year in the U.S. from alcohol related causes, and yet we still have politicians who believe marijuana to be a dangerous, gateway drug.
You know what’s also a gateway drug? Alcohol.
If you want to talk about an abused substance that results in deaths and impairs your judgement, look to what’s already legal.
Opinion editor Anthony Torres is a political science junior and may be reached at [email protected]