Despite numerous proposals to reform marijuana laws, efforts to bring medicinal cannabis to those who need it have stalled in the Texas Legislature’s most recent session. According to High Times, the reluctance on the part of many legislators to participate in the reform process comes in direct conflict to the wishes of many of their constituents. A February 2017 poll showed than more than 80 percent of Texas voters favor allowing the legal use of medical marijuana throughout the state.
At least six marijuana reform bills, many of them sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats, failed to reach a full floor vote. A bill that would have allowed for restricted use of medical marijuana, which was sponsored by more than 70 state legislators, was never called to the floor. A decriminalization effort, which resembles measures taken in cities like Houston and Dallas, also failed to be heard on the floor.
With overwhelming support in both Austin and around the state, why are the efforts to reform the state’s draconian marijuana laws failing? According to State Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), the main reason for the collapse of marijuana reform in Texas comes down to three letters: THC.
For patients in need of medical marijuana, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the chemical compound that offers pain relief and increases appetite. For recreational users, THC is also the compound that produces the “high” associated with smoking the dried buds.
Rep. Isaacs told the San Antonio Express-News that many of his colleagues still see THC as dangerous, and that loosening access to marijuana strains that contain THC could open the door to recreational usage, a tough sell to conservative Republican voters in rural districts.
As views on both the medicinal benefits and financial windfalls of marijuana reform take hold in other states, Texas legislators will have to choose between appealing to a rapidly-diminishing anti-marijuana constituency, or be left behind while other states reap the rewards.