Five surprising drug reform states
Texas may be the last state anyone ever thinks of to pass major drug reform, but in fact the Lone Star State has already done just that.
Through a somewhat obscure parallel “drug court” system which operates alongside the traditional punitive measures which make the state famous, the Texan judicial system has so effectively reduced the prison population that the state closed an entire prison for the first time in its 150-year history in 2012.
In fact, the program’s focus on drug addiction treatment over punitive prohibition as been so effective at reducing the state’s prison population (and the large tax bill which accompanies it) that more reform may be just around the corner.
Although HB 594, a bill which would have provided an “affirmative defense” to Texans caught with marijuana who can show a legitimate medical need for it, failed to advance out of committee in the last legislative session, it’s clear that Texan voters demand a return of the debate over marijuana policy. Perhaps that is why Miriam Martinez, a Republican candidate for Texas governor, has announced her support for both decriminalization and medical marijuana reform.
It is a classic case of the politicians following the people. According to a poll commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project this year, a surprising 58% of Texans support taxing and regulating marijuana in a way similar to alcohol. The results confirm a truism about Texas politics which many nationwide find surprising: although the state’s residents love punitive justice, they love their cherished liberties and low taxes even more. Read more