AUSTIN, Texas (Dec. 9, 2020) – Eight bills prefiled in the Texas House and Senate for the 2021 legislative session would legalize marijuana despite federal prohibition.
Sen. Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin) filed Senate Joint Resolution 16 (SJR16) and Rep.Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) filed the companion, House Joint Resolution 13 (HJR13). The legislation would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2022 to authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis for general adult use.
Rep. Joseph Moody (D-El Paso) filed House Bill 447 (HB447). The legislation would legalize marijuana for adult use and create a tax and regulatory scheme for the cannabis market in Texas.
Rep. Alex Dominguez (D-Brownsville) filed House Bill 43 (HB43). The legislation would authorize the possession, use, cultivation, distribution, transportation, and delivery of medical cannabis by patients with certain conditions. It would also create a licensing structure for medical marijuana dispensaries.
Sen. Jose Menendez (D- San Antonio) filed Senate Bill 90 (SB90) and Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City) filed the companion, House Bill 94 (HB94). The legislation would also authorize the possession, use, cultivation, distribution, transportation, and delivery of medical cannabis for medical use by qualifying patients with certain debilitating medical conditions and create a regulatory and licensing program for the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana.
Reynolds also filed House Joint Resolution 11 (HJR11). Rep Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) filed an identical measure, House Joint Resolution 28 (HJR 28). This legislation would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2022 to authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis for medical use.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION
Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains the complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
The legalization and decriminalization of marijuana at the state and local level remove a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By legalizing cannabis, these states can essentially sweep away at least some of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests. Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
With the passage of any of these bills, Texas would join a growing number of states and localities increasingly ignoring federal prohibition and nullifying it in practice.
Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019. In 2020, marijuana was a big winner in elections across the country. Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota all legalized recreational marijuana and Mississippi voters approved a medical marijuana program.
With 36 states allowing cannabis for medical use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.
“The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
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