U.S. Senate candidate from Texas running on pro-marijuana platform
U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate today, and looks to face off against Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018.
While announcing his candidacy, Rep. O’Rourke touched on a number of issues, including the opiate crises currently gripping the country, and the failed war on drugs.
“We have an opportunity to end this failed war on drugs,” he stated during his speech. Adding, “We have an opportunity, after more than half the states in this union have stopped locking people up for marijuana convictions, have filled our jails so that we imprison more of own people than any other country, and make sure that we help those who are struggling with addiction, with drug use, find a better way, a connection to the help and the care that they deserve. It’s going to make them, their families, and this state stronger.”
Rep. O’Rourke, a Democrat from El Paso, was first elected in 2012 after running on a marijuana law reform platform and defeating the incumbent. He has since championed multiple bills and amendments in congress which would roll back federal restrictions on the cannabis plant. Before being elected to congress, he was a city council member of El Paso.
Sen. Cruz, who has been largely quiet about the issue of marijuana, has stated in the past that he supports the right of states to enact their own policies. He stated in response to Colorado legalizing marijuana that he did not agree with the move, despite roughly 62,000 arrests in Texas alone each year for marijuana possession.
Before Rep. O’Rourke can face off against Cruz however, he may face at least one challenger in the primary.
Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio announced in 2016 that he was considering running against Cruz. So far there has been no indication of whether or not that is still the case. Rep. Castro has been quiet on the issue of marijuana law reform.
Should O’Rourke ultimately face off against Cruz, it will be one of two high profile races next year, as Gov. Greg Abbott, who has come out against reforming marijuana laws, has announced that he intends to run for a second term.
As state lawmakers debate 20 different cannabis related bills this session, O’Rourke’s candidacy will do nothing but increase the visibility of marijuana law reform.