Texas Lawmaker Makes Push For Statewide Cannabis Legalization

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On the heels of a historic triumph for the legalization movement at the ballot box earlier this month, one Texas lawmaker is keen to get in on the action.

Roland Gutierrez, a Democratic state House representative who was just elected to the Texas state senate, said this week that he intends to introduce legislation that would legalize both recreational and medical marijuana in the Lone Star State.

 The San Antonio-based lawmaker took to Twitter on Monday to announce the measure, saying it could serve as a remedy for the state’s budgetary woes.

“Texas will be facing tremendous budgetary challenges next session,” he said in the tweet. “My bill would create 30,000 new jobs for our state and produce $3.2 billion in new revenue WITHOUT raising taxes on everyday Texans!”

Gutierrez elaborated in a news release. 

“There is going to be a budget shortfall to affect all Texans next legislation session, however, I look forward to working with my colleagues to offer a real solution,” Gutierrez said, as quoted by local television outlet KSAT. “This bill will generate new revenue and create at least 30,000 high paying jobs. Our state’s economic future is uncertain and in order to best serve our state, we have to look at cannabis legalization as a solution and not keep going back to the taxpayers and raise their taxes.”

According to local television station KLTV, Gutierrez’s bill would “allow Texans to possess up to 2.5 ounces on their person at any one time and grow up to 12 plants for personal use,” while also permitting licensed retailers “to sell marijuana and products containing THC, the main intoxicating substance in cannabis, to adults over 21.”

In addition, Gutierrez’s legislation authorizes “the possession, use, cultivation, distribution, transportation, and delivery of medical cannabis and the licensing of medical cannabis dispensing organizations.” 

Legalization Sweeping The Country

Gutierrez may feel emboldened by the success of marijuana ballot measures on Election Day last week, with the legalization movement notching wins even in historically conservative states like Texas. Voters in New Jersey, Arizona, Montana and South Dakota all approved proposals to legalize recreational marijuana for adults (South Dakota, along with Mississippi, also passed measures legalizing medical marijuana). Two of those states, Montana and South Dakota, were easily carried by Presidential Donald Trump, while Arizona had been carried by Republicans in the five presidential elections prior to this year. The results may serve as some of the most compelling evidence yet that legalization transcends partisan lines in the United States.

“These results once again illustrate that support for legalization extends across geographic and demographic lines. The success of these initiatives proves definitively that marijuana legalization is not exclusively a ‘blue’ state issue, but an issue that is supported by a majority of all Americans — regardless of party politics,” said NORML executive director Erik Altieri. “The public has spoken loudly and clearly. They favor ending the failed policies of marijuana prohibition and replacing it with a policy of legalization, regulation, taxation, and public education. Elected officials — at both the state and federal level — ought to be listening.”

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