Texas is evolving on marijuana, so what does it take to change the laws?

AUSTIN (KXAN) – During his re-election campaign, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has set a moderate tone when it comes to marijuana.

When asked about the cannabis reform during a campaign event last week, Abbott once again argued that prisons and prisons are places “for dangerous criminals who can harm others.”

“Small possession of marijuana is not the type of violation that we want to assemble prisons with,” the governor said.

His remarks come as opinions on the matter begin to change throughout the state. ONE University of Texas at Austin and Texas Tribune poll June last year, 60% of Texas voters showed they support recreational marijuana use.

Abbott has signaled that he is open to the idea of ​​decriminalization. That’s been another story for Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.

“The lieutenant governor has made it pretty explicit that he’s not helping to diminish the state’s drug laws on marijuana,” said Joshua Blank of the UT Austin’s Texas Politics Project. “But I think like any other public figure, if the pressure continues to rise, especially within his own party, there is no reason why he can not change his mind.”

KXAN spoke with rep. Joe Moody (D), who represents El Paso in Austin. Moody’s has enacted legislation that tackles the cannabis reform, even though his bill has not reached out to Patrick’s Senate.

Still, Moody is still hopeful.

“There’s this stuck mentality, it used to be like that on both sides of the aisle that we might just want to be tough on crime,” Moody said. “Both parties are starting to deviate from that philosophy, some faster than others, but I think we are reaching a point where we can have a consensus on that.”

Samantha Benavides with the group Mano Amigo is currently collecting signatures to try to get marijuana decriminalized at the local level in San Marcos. She told KXAN that the state’s current cannabis laws leave money on the table.

“We have people in Colorado, for example, and other states where (marijuana is) legal to build these multimillion-dollar businesses,” she said.

Blank said money could ultimately tip the scale at the Texas capital, even if Republicans retain power for years to come.

“I think the state is, you know, a big state facing several fiscal challenges, which in most cases are the size of Texas,” he said. “Other states generate revenue through legalization and tax and marijuana. There is no reason to believe that Texas will not also consider such a scheme.”

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