WACO, Texas – After winning the Democratic nomination for governor of Texas, Beto O’Rourke took the stage and made a promise that could define his campaign in the fall.
“Don’t you think it’s time to legalize marijuana in Texas? I’m doing it too. We can make it happen,” O’Rourke said.
A heavy promise, but he may be able to keep it.
According to a study conducted at the University of Texas at Austin, the percentage of Texas voters who favor legalizing marijuana has been on the rise since 2010.
In 2010, there was a 60/40 split against legalization. Today, those numbers have flipped in favor of rationing.
The signs of a move toward legalization are there, says Baylor political professor Pat Flavin. “About a year from now, there may be some serious consideration of decriminalization,” Flavin said. “Or at least reduce penalties especially for small amounts of possession.”
The Texas chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, also known as Texas NORML, was laying the groundwork for Texas voters to learn about marijuana legalization and the people in power who support their cause.
Texas NORML executive producer Jax James says her organization is trying to make a big push as legislation slows.
“There is a lot of domestic action going on trying to push and give upward momentum to this through the legislature,” James says. But if it were up to the will of the people, we would have had a strong market for medical cannabis for about eight years, maybe even 10 years.”
Legalization was thought impossible in Texas years ago. But as times change and progress is made, the tone of some conversations changes over time.
James says the time to pay is now and the bans should embrace the changing era.
“For the rare few that are left out there,” James says. “I think many of the issues people have with cannabis can be addressed in thoughtful ways.” “We can make regulation work for Texas and empower both businesses and consumers. To engage in a strong market we deserve here in Texas.”