Bill to remove marijuana penalties hits Texas legislature as new poll shows 76 percent agree the law needs to change
A bill has been introduced today which would remove the penalty for possessing marijuana in Texas.
Introduced by Rep. David Simpson, a Republican from Longview, HB 2165 sets forth a framework which would largely end the prohibition of marijuana.
The bill effectively scrubs marijuana from the state Code of Criminal Procedure and several other sections of law. This would have the effect of regulating marijuana like a garden grown tomato.
“As a Christian, I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same,” Simpson stated in a recent TribTalk column. “In fact, it’s for this reason that I’m especially cautious when it comes to laws banning plants. I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.”
He followed up by pointing a previous failure with the prohibition of alcohol.
“You would think that our country’s history with alcohol prohibition – an era marked by bootlegging, organized crime, government corruption and a rise in crime in general – would have prevented us from making the same mistake again.”
This comes soon after over 300 Texans held a lobby day at the capitol in which they asked legislators to consider supporting a medical marijuana program and penalty reductions for possession of cannabis.
While some have voiced concerns over what legal marijuana in Texas would entail, in states where the plant has been legalized, they’ve seen a reduction in crime, a decrease in consumption for teens, an increase in economic activity and tax revenues, and law enforcement officials have been able to spend their time on other issues. Prescription drug abuse and overdoses have fallen dramatically in those states as well.
Simpson sought to soothe concerns about decriminalization, stating “Should we be concerned for our friends and neighbors who abuse a substance or activity? Yes, we should help them through sincere and voluntary engagement, but not with force and violence.”
He adds, “Is there a place for prohibition? Yes, a prohibition of aggression (Romans 13). Our laws should prohibit and penalize violent acts. This is the jurisdiction of the magistrates under the new covenant – harm to one’s neighbor.”
Passage of the bill will require several steps. The bill must first be passed out of committee, then scheduled for a vote on the House floor. Once passing out of the House, the Texas Senate must pass it as well. Finally, Governor Greg Abbott will have to sign it.
There are already six other cannabis-related bills which have been filed in both the House and Senate, which also touch on medical marijuana, penalty reduction, and hemp legalization as well.
Recent polling shows that Texans overwhelmingly agree on the topic of cannabis, with 76 percent supporting some form of legal marijuana.
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