|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Medicine Marijuana legalization|
The use and legalization of marijuana in the State of Texas have been a long debate dating back to the early 1900s where it was first restricted, first as a recreational drug and then for medicinal purposes (Davenport-Hines, 2003). However, in recent weeks, Texas under the leadership of Governor Greg Abbot signed into law the House Bill 3703 that will see the expansion of the list of patients to access to medical marijuana products (Samuels, 2019). This comes as a positive step forward and a milestone for individuals suffering from conditions such as epilepsy, seizures, terminal cancer, autism, multiple sclerosis (commonly known as MS), spasticity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly known as ALS or Lou Gherig's disease), and incurable neurodegenerative diseases - which are now all included in the new Bill. Initially, the treatment was only available to individuals with epilepsy.
Public Standing on Marijuana Use in Texas
Despite the progress made on the use and sale of medical marijuana by licensed dispensaries and pharmacies, the recreational use of marijuana still remains illegal in the State of Texas. The possession of 4 ounces of cannabis is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 180 days in prison (Bort, 2019). However, protests and efforts to reduce punishment in recent years are slowly taking hold. The push towards the legalization of marijuana, especially for recreational use, will be a long walk for Texas given that a majority its leadership is of a conservative nature and is against its legalization. Despite that, a majority of the public do agree that the penalties such as jail time and hefty fines are too harsh and should be reduced. Protests such as the Marijuana Lobby day which is held every two years in Texas is quickly gaining popularity throughout the State (Pollack, 2017). The lobby has participants from all backgrounds and professions such as doctors, patients, lawyers, mothers to epileptic children, military veterans, and marijuana-lovers as well.
Although a majority support the reduction of the penalties for the illegal possession and use of recreational marijuana, there is a section of people in Texas who support these laws and would like them to be maintained. A majority of this crowd of people say that marijuana is a getaway drug and all drug addicts start with weed. They also claim that it affects the IQ of those who use the drug, more so teenagers as well as adversely affect those suffering from mental illnesses (Samuels, 2019). Those opposing the criminalization of marijuana; however, claim that no one has ever died from its use and should, therefore, be legalized.
It is clear that there are mixed feelings on the legalization or criminalization of the recreational use of marijuana. These feelings are also varied among subgroups such as religion, party affiliation, and geographical region, among others. The approach and perception of marijuana use are extremely different for urban and rural parts of Texas. In urban areas, which are mostly associated with less conservative people, there is a more relaxed approach towards marijuana use. This is, however, quite the opposite in more rural or suburban areas in Texas, where it is viewed as an extremely serious offense (Samuels, 2019). In the greater United States, the personal use of marijuana is legal in only ten states, which include Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington states (Garber-Paul, 2019). On the other hand, the medical use of marijuana is legal in 33 states, including Texas although with limitations. The cultivation of marijuana is, however, illegal in the State of Texas.
Official Position of Democratic and Republican Parties
In recent years, there has been immense pressure on political parties and lawmakers in Texas on the legalization of marijuana. In addition to the lobby groups and protests supporting the legalization of marijuana, the pressure to conform to what other states and countries such as Canada and Mexico are doing in regards to marijuana is getting intense. Both Canada and Mexico have legalized the recreational use of cannabis (Tallet, 2018). This has left Texas being surrounded by States that have allowed the medical use of cannabis and countries that have set laws to freely allow the use of marijuana. In addition to not allowing the personal use of marijuana, it is a criminal offense in Texas, punishable by heavy fines and prison time.
However, among the greatest campaigner in the push for the decriminalization of marijuana is District Attorney Kim Ogg, who since assuming office in 2017 has created a marijuana division program for first-time offenders. In his opinion, Ogg says that the state is wasting useful resources in apprehending and jailing low-level weed consumers - a remark that is quite sensible considering the overly strict laws. These sentiments are also shared by both the Republican Party of Texas and the Democratic Party of Texas (Reeves, 2019), who believe that the penalties for marijuana should be reduced. For instance, the Republican Party of Texas delegates is pushing for the decriminalization of marijuana use. This was observed when they voted for the approval of platforms that endorse the decriminalization of marijuana in Texas last year (Angell, 2018). The Republican Party want the law changed to make marijuana a civil crime and not a criminal one only attracting fines of up to US$100 and no time in prison.
The support from the Republican Party is a welcoming move as no Bill in Texas come to law unless the Republicans want it to (Colen, 2019). An added advantage to the decriminalization efforts of marijuana in Texas is the collaboration by both the Republican and Democratic Parties on the matter. Both parties, even with the coming 2020 election, agree that there need for changes in the marijuana laws.
Organized Groups Supporting the Decriminalisation of Marijuana
Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (RAMP)
The move to decriminalize marijuana use is gaining support from a majority of Republicans in Texas, who even created a movement called the Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition or RAMP. This movement is standing up against the inhumane and unjust practice of imprisoning people who use marijuana (RAMP, 2019). The founder of the movement lifelong Republican supporter, Ann Lee whose son suffered a workplace accident that put him in a wheelchair. Lee discovered that marijuana was a possible relief aider for the chronic nerve pain that her son was going through after the accident. Although she had once viewed marijuana as a dangerous drug, the medical benefit that it has on her son made her change her mind, questioning its illegality. RAMP and its members advocate for the medical use of marijuana as well as to oppose government policies and laws that decriminalizes its use (RAMP, 2019). They also push to making the possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil issue as opposed to a criminal one.
Texas National Organisation for the Reform of the Marijuana Laws (NORML)
Another organized group supporting the decriminalization of marijuana is the Texas National Organisation for the Reform of the Marijuana Laws (NORML), whose mandate is to change the laws that govern marijuana use to reflect on what the opinion of the people of Texas. This opinion is that the responsible use of marijuana by adults and patients in Texas should not be subject to a penalty (Texas NORML, 2019). The organization believes that marijuana has a number of benefits that could be useful for patients suffering from various ailments. In addition to that, they believe that the Government of Texas is spending a lot of resources and funds in criminalizing low usage of marijuana - costing the American taxpayers about US$10 billion every year. The organization also focuses on increasing awareness of current laws regarding marijuana in Texas and in the greater United States.
Overall, in comparison to other States in the US as well as neighboring countries such as Canada and Mexico, the marijuana laws in Texas are very strict and quite honestly, very unreasonable. Although the mood and attitude towards decriminalizing marijuana use are progressing each day, the progress is still slow. However, the State and its legislatures can be applauded for their recent move in expanding the list of persons to use medical marijuana, whose benefits are quite visible to patients suffering from ailments such as epilepsy, seizures, terminal cancer, and autism, among others. This victory can, however, be viewed as a first step forward in the fight against the criminalization of marijuana. With time, Texas will review its laws and hopefully make the use and possession of small quantities of marijuana a civil issue as opposed to the current criminal one.
Adamczyk, A., Thomas, C., & Felson, J. (2019, February 05). Why so many Americans now support legalizing marijuana, in 4 charts. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/why-so-many-americans-now-support-legalizing-marijuana-in-4-charts
Angell, T. (2018, June 17). Texas Republican Party Endorses Marijuana Decriminalization. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomangell/2018/06/17/texas-republican-party-endorses-marijuana-decriminalization/#645927595236
Bort, R. (2019, April 19). How to Navigate Texas' Confusing Medical Marijuana Laws. Retrieved from https://www.thrillist.com/lifestyle/dallas/texas-medical-marijuana-legal-weed
Burdette, A. M., Webb, N. S., Hill, T. D., Haynes, S. H., & Ford, J. A. (2018). Religious Involvement and Marijuana Use for Medical and Recreational Purposes. Journal of Drug Issues, 421-434.
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Davenport-Hines, R. (2003). The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics. New York, United States: Norton.
Garber-Paul, E. (2019, June 17). United States of Weed. Retrieved from Rolling Stone: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/cannabis-legalization-states-map-831885/
NCSL. (2019). State Medical Marijuana Laws. Denver, CO, USA: National Conference of State Legislatures.
Pollack, N. (2017, February 17). Texas Marijuana Lobby Day has ballooned in size - and potentially influence. Retrieved from https://www.thecannabist.co/2017/02/17/texas-marijuana-lobby-legislation-legalization/73530/
RAMP. (2019). Decriminalization. Retrieved from Republicans Against Marijuana http://www.rampgop.org/issues/decriminalization/
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Free Essay: Texas Should Legalise the Medical and Recreational Use of Marijuana. (2023, Jan 24). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/free-essay-texas-should-legalise-the-medical-and-recreational-use-of-marijuana
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