Tokin’ up in Texas should be legal, state lawmakers oppose it

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Pot, weed, bud, green, Mary Jane… We’re talking about marijuana. If you have picked up a newspaper, turned on the television or just talked to your friends or family, you know that the sale of marijuana for recreational use has been legalized in Colorado and Washington.

As of Jan. 1, residents and tourists to these two states are able to enjoy marijuana legally as long as they are 21 or older. The sales of the herb have drawn local and tourist attention so much that dispensaries are having difficulty meeting demands.

The supplies of marijuana are not meeting the demand because dispensaries need to acquire governmental permission in order to cultivate the crop for selling. Then, the plant takes approximately three to five months to grow so there is a period of time when demand is larger than the supply.

Other states are now making moves to legalize marijuana as United States voters increase support for the drug’s legalization. There are some states that have already legalized the drug for medical use, and are exploring the idea of recreational use marijuana. These include Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. These states are the most likely to fully legalize marijuana.

According to a Public Policy Polling Survey, 58 percent of Texans support legalization of medical marijuana; 61 percent of Texans support decriminalization of marijuana; and 58 percent of Texans support the legalization of recreational marijuana with regulations and taxes similar to alcohol. I am one of those Texans that support the decriminalization of marijuana; once it’s legal the state should tax it and regulate it similarly to alcohol.

Although the majority of Texans support legalization of marijuana, it is unlikely that the state legislature will reflect the views of voters given that Texas is highly conservative.

Even state lawmakers acknowledge that legalization of marijuana will not be on the agenda when they meet in 2015. When was asked about this, state Senator John Carona, who represents Dallas County, said, “Pardon the pun, but those people are high.”

While Carona may be against putting the legalization of weed on the table in the state capital, Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner Kinky Friedman is making it a key aspect of his campaign.

In Texas, possessing less than two ounces of pot is a misdemeanor and will result in 180 days in prison with a maximum fine of $2,000. According to an article by the American Civil Liberties Union, “between 2001 and 2010, there were over 8 million pot arrests in the U.S. That’s one bust every 37 seconds…”

Enforcing marijuana laws is expensive; the price tag rings up to about $3.6 billion a year in taxpayer dollars that could be used toward education or social services. The enforcement of these laws has also done little to reduce the amount of marijuana trafficked each year.

In the land of the free, it almost seems as if marijuana prohibition will be coming to an end over the next century, after having been illegal for the past one. Although some of those in office object to its legalization, we live in a democratic society where the voters control the laws. If people want marijuana to be legalized, then they should write their representatives and go vote.

Follow me on Twitter @laurennibarra