Will this traditionally red state ever go green?
Legalization in Texas might be closer than we think, but the reality is that despite the state’s fierce individuality and believe in personal liberties, the red state mentality still largely applies to the green stuff. Here are ten barriers that are keeping Texas from making like Peter Tosh and legalizing it.
Representative Pete Sessions Hates Marijuana With a Passion
Based on his relentless anti-weed stance, you’d think marijuana stole Pete Sessions’ high school girlfriend. The most anti-pot crusader in the House of Representatives serves the 32nd District which covers a suburban area North of Dallas (shocking). He’s chairman of the House Committee on Rules, so his narc mentality isn’t surprising, but his actions are often unreasonable even by drug war standards and has caused pro-marijuana Super PACs to put a bounty on his seat. He has blocked cannabis business developments like bank access and tax deductions, but also brought additional regulation to the medical side, including a bill to stop veterans access. He even conflated marijuana with the opioid crisis, hijacking a summit on the epidemic to push his no-one-should-get-stoned agenda.
Even Some Severe Epileptics Can’t Get CBD Oil
If you’re looking for another discouraging news story about lack of empathy, The Houston Chronicle has you covered with a feature on how hard it is for epileptic children to access legal CBD oil. The Texas Compassionate Care Act of 2015 is packed with small print that make it incredibly hard to score low-THC cannabis, with provisions that require a doctor to have already prescribed two different treatments before CBD, as well as approval needed from a second doctor. Also, only the patient themselves, not a caregiver, is legally allowed to pick up their prescriptions. And these same standards will likely accompany any future expansions of medical offerings.
It’s Hard for Doctors to Gain Prescription Certification
Texas Conservatives famously dealt a blow to reproductive rights by limiting the number of doctors who could perform abortions and they’ve taken the same strategy towards CBD prescriptions. Doctors have to register with the Texas Department of Public Safety, a deterrent that led to only seven doctors registering with the state as of November 21, 2017.
Even the Laws on the Books are Under Threat
In April the Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt released an open letter lobbying for the ban of hemp-CBD sales as a result of the compound appearing in a wider range of products. Retailers would need to return their products for inspection, a burden that at the very least would remove CBD from shelves for an extended period.
It’s Really Expensive to Open a Dispensary
Laws that forbid dispensaries from using practical services available to almost every other business make entering the marijuana industry an uphill battle. Everyone knows about banking and tax regulations, but one forgotten cost is that they can’t ship their products via established carriers like Amazon, but have to set up their own transportation network. Plus, the insurance alone is crippling: the Austin Chronicle reports that the city’s first dispensary will shell out roughly half a million dollars for their first two years of insurance.
The Legally Available Marijuana Products are Pitifully Weak
Medicinal marijuana is technically legal in Texas, but what’s available could barely considered effective, except maybe for pets. A medicinal product can only contain .5% THC, an arbitrary restriction that doesn’t exist in most other states.
Bills That do Gain Support Often Die on the Floor of the Capitol
Texas’s short bi-yearly legislative sessions mean that many bills that might have hope of passing are simply kept out of the voting schedule so that they die on the floor, waiting another two years to be addressed. That happened with two decriminalization bills in the 2015 session and one in 2017, so it’s easy to see a 2019 bill facing the same fate.
Texas May be Leaning Blue, But it Still Bleeds Red
Liberal activists are banking on a Trump backlash, changing ethnic demographics, and a reversal of gerrymandering laws to help turn the state blue, but it’s still a longshot. Ted Cruz challenger Beto O’Rourke, a vocal marijuana supporter, trails the incumbent Zodiac Killer by less than 10 points in a recent poll, but Cruz is still a safe bet to keep his seat. Until there’s change at the top, it’ll still be years before Blue Texans can legally hotbox their liberal bubbles.
The Conventional Drug War Wisdom Still Applies
By now it’s common wisdom even among some Republicans that marijuana isn’t a scourge on society, but there’s still previously debunked marijuana consumption myths that fuel the anti-legalization narrative. Teen drug abuse is often cited as a danger, but studies have shown that underage abuse doesn’t actually increase once marijuana is legalized. Same goes for previously held beliefs about crime rates and traffic accidents. It makes a Texan jealous of states where it’s commonly accepted that The War on Drugs is only appropriate as a band name (and maybe sometimes not even then).