The Marijuana Policy Project, credited with helping fund the successful legalization campaigns in both Colorado and Washington, has now launched a similar effort in the state of Texas. While most officials in the state think decriminalization will be the first step—potentially long before legalization—the Marijuana Policy Project is pushing hard to make the latter happen sooner rather than later.
“We feel like legalizing marijuana in Texas – though people in Texas feel like it’s impossible – I think it’s possible in five years,” said MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia, vowing that his organization will bank on it. We’re “about to spend real money on decriminalization and legalization”, he said.
Now more than ever, voters and elected officials alike are warming to the idea of marijuana law changes. Recently, Governor Rick Perry has made headlines for his outspokenness on the matter.
“After 40 years of the war on drugs, I can’t change what happened in the past. What I can do as the governor of the second largest state in the nation is to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization and keeps people from going to prison and destroying their lives, and that’s what we’ve done over the last decade,” Perry notably said at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland recently.
His potential successors are not completely opposed to it either. Wendy Davis says that while she supports medical marijuana, she is still considering her opinion on legalization. Jerry Patterson, another contender, says he too supports medical pot. More notable, the mere fact that marijuana has become a major issue in this and all other elections across the country, politicians are talking about it freely, a topic that was taboo only a decade or so ago.
As of March 1, MPP will be pushing forward with their campaign, hiring a seasoned lobbyist and committing to spend $200,000 to fund the push. By 2015, Kampia says, he’d like to have “three perfect bills” ready for consideration—one for medical marijuana, one for decriminalization, and one for full legalization similar to Colorado.
“And we’ll see how far each of the three bills go,” he said. “Maybe all three don’t pass in the first session, but I know there is a lot of energy behind these bills.”
The latest poll indicates a growing number of Texans support changing marijuana laws. As for medical marijuana, 67% of Democrats and 50% of Republicans support it while 66% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans support decriminalization. Support for legalization stands at about 70% of Democrats and 48% of Republicans.
Until then, marijuana possession remains a crime and people caught with pot stand to be arrested and charged.