Large majorities of delegates voted in favor of marijuana decriminalization, expansion of medical cannabis and hemp production at the recent Texas Republican convention. The group also called on Congress to remove marijuana from the Schedule 1 list of controlled substances.
These positions represent a substantial change from the views held by the state’s current Republican leadership. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz opposes marijuana legalization. He will face a Democrat proponent of legalization in the next election. In addition, Republican Rep. Pete Sessions has blocked floor votes about cannabis reform for years.
The stances adopted by the state’s Republican party call for the end of criminal charges against people in possession of no more than 1 ounce of marijuana. They should instead pay a $100 fine for a civil offense and not face jail time, according to one of the party’s new platforms.
A representative from the Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy said that the state currently wastes criminal justice resources on ineffective marijuana policies. Current laws result in the arrest of between 60,000 and 70,000 Texans every year. The group also called for the state’s medical marijuana to meet the needs of more patients. Right now, only a limited number of people can get legal access to a certain type of medical cannabis.
This changing political climate represents hope for the future, but a person arrested on a drug charge under existing laws could still face a harsh sentence. The representation of an attorney might help a defendant make important decisions about a case. An attorney can help defend the person from excessive charges by questioning the evidence or actions of law enforcement. The alleged offender could also gain an advocate capable of communicating with a prosecutor and negotiating a plea deal with a light sentence.