SAN ANTONIO – Texas lawmakers have begun filing bills for the upcoming legislative session and there are already more than a dozen bills regarding marijuana use and decriminalization.
The new bill proposals come off the heels of five more states legalizing marijuana for full medical use or recreational use.
Currently, 11 states have fully legalized marijuana and 34 states have made it legal for medical use.
According to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll in 2018, more than 53% of the state’s voters would legalize pot.
“The people of Texas are tired of marijuana prohibition,” Heather Fazio the director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy said.
Fazio has been lobbying for years for the expansion of marijuana laws in the state and believes because they are closer than ever to seeing something get done next legislative session.
“We’ve been working with Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on legislation with decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana and allowing patients safe and legal access to medical cannabis by making the Compassionate Use program more inclusive.
The Compassionate Use Act in Texas only allows a small amount of medical marijuana to certain patients.
State Senator José Menéndez has been pushing for the past five years to expand that act.
“There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who could benefit,” Menéndez said. “I want politicians to really not talk about how much they respect their constituents but show them that you respect them and you’re willing to give them a tool if their doctor agrees it could help.”
Along with Menéndez’s bill, Senator-elect Roland Gutierrez is going a step further by filing a bill that would legalize marijuana use for adults.
“We need to put ourselves in a position where we’re creating a product that is grown locally in Texas, by Texas farmers, tested in Texas properly,” Gutierrez said. “We have an opportunity of creating over 30,000 jobs and $3 billion in revenue.”
In this upcoming session, the discussion of the budget will be important as the stated is projected to have a shortfall and Gutierrez believes sales tax from marijuana could make up for it.
“It’s my hope that the Lt. Governor, the Governor, and others that are like-minded would at least look at the facts and look at the data that exists and look what other states have been able to uncover over time and realize for themselves,” Gutierrez said.
KSAT reached out to Governor Greg Abbott’s office and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s office for their stance on the expansion of marijuana in the state but have not heard back.
The 86th Legislative session begins on Jan. 8.