Decriminalizing Recreational Marijuana Use on the Table in Texas

Several measures to end Texas prohibition on marijuana use have been filed for the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature, including bills that would decriminalize the drug for recreational use, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Texas is increasingly an outlier in its total prohibition on marijuana, with the exception of the available of a specific type of non THC cannabis oil for the treatment of a specific seizure disorder.State Sen. Jose Menendez,  (D-San Antonio) says it is not fair to limit the availability of a substance that might help sick and suffering people, and may help patients avoid opioids and other potentially addictive drugs.

"Thirty states now allow for regulated, safe, taxed, cannabis products," Menendez told 1200 WOAI's Michael Board.  "In every state surrounding Texas, you can get medicinal marijuana."

Menendez says Texas doctors are asking for the right to recommend medical marijuana to their patients, and veterans groups say there is strong evidence that medical marijuana is effective in treating conditions like PTSD.

"Politicians need to stop acting like people's doctors," Menendez said.  "Its time that we let the doctors determine what medicines people have access to, and stop trying to dictate, just because of some pre conceived notion that you may have about cannabis."

But State Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) wants to go even further.  Moody has introduced a bill that would decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Moody's bill would not completely legalize the use of marijuana, like has been done in Colorado and in an increasing number of states, but it would eliminate the threat of arrest and jail time for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.

Several bills are tackling the question of liberalizing the state's marijuana laws, and they are supported by both Democrats and Republicans.But wild card, however, is Gov. Abbott.  

After signing the seizure disorder bill in 2015, Abbott indicated that he would not be open to any new measures normalizing marijuana laws in Texas, although there have been indications that the governor is ready to alter his opinion.

If Abbott indicates he will veto a bill, lawmakers are far more likely to simply not debate it.

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