According to a recent poll by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, at least two-thirds of residents support cannabis legalization in Texas. The same poll also found that 81% believed possession of cannabis should only be punishable by citation—in the same regard as a traffic ticket.
The difficulty is Texas voters have never had the opportunity to decide whether or not cannabis is legalized in their state. However, that’s all about to change with House Bill 1937.
Filed by Rep. Jessica González (D – Dallas), a new bill would allow adults in Texas ages 21 and older to possess recreational cannabis. Here are the details:
- Counties and municipalities will have the right to make their own decisions regarding cannabis legality (therefore, can continue to ban it if they so choose).
- If approved, Texans in these approved areas would be allowed up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana.
- There would be a standardized 10% tax on all cannabis products, with that money going toward cannabis regulation, testing, government oversight, and school funding.
Such a bill is a large step from the currently established Texas Compassionate Use Program—the state’s limited medical marijuana program. And we use the term “limited” simply because this law only allows for cannabis products that contain less than 1% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Not to mention, it’s a large step from the fact that Texas is one of the few states to continue to criminalize cannabis. Possession of two ounces or less remains punishable with an incarceration of up to 180 days and a max fine of $2,000.
Still, some cities and counties (including Dallas, Denton, and Plano) are working towards decriminalizing the substance.
The Chances of this New Bill Reaching Texas Voters are Likely Slim
It’s unfortunate to say that Texans may never even get the chance to vote on HB 1937. González had filed a similar bill in 2021, but this never reached voters. On top of that, Republican leaders (such as Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick) have continually argued against recreational cannabis legalization.
So, even if Texans do get the chance to vote on the bill, there’s a good chance Abbott won’t sign it. And that’s even with all the evidence suggesting cannabis can have a major positive impact on Texas’s economy.
“While Texas has made progress with the Compassionate Use Act, we have been left behind on a potential revenue source that would increase investments in public education, stop unnecessary arrests for cannabis possession, and create jobs in our state,” González noted in a statement.
It’s obvious that González has put the Republican stance on cannabis into deep consideration. Offering one of the first bills of its kind to allow counties and municipalities the ability to legalize (or continue criminalizing) cannabis rather than the state as a whole.
Still, we can’t imagine Abbott would be keen on such considerations— namely due to the division such a decision may cause within Texas.
However, even with all these arguments, one thing is for certain: Texans want cannabis. In accordance with the above-mentioned poll:
- 74% of born-again Christians support medical legalization, 62% support decriminalization, and 52% support legalization.
- 73% of Latino, 66% of Black, and 62% of white Texas voters support legalization.
The only perceived negative this poll discovered was that 40% believed legalization would increase the use of marijuana by people under the age of 21. Though, we already have some evidence suggesting legalization actually slows down teen marijuana use.