The Debate Heats Up to Legalize Marijuana in Texas

Published 01/21 2014 09:48PM

Updated 01/23 2014 12:57PM

Marijuana is now legal in both Colorado and Washington, but could it soon follow suit it Texas?

The conversation is beginning as two Texas lawmakers, state Rep. Harold Dutton and Rep. Elliot Naishat, say they will re-introduce the legislation as many times as possible in order to get Texas to adopt marijuana regulations.

"Why we would go down that road of legalizing something that knowingly is going to gonna impair peoples judgement?" 

Representative Charles Perry tells KAMC News he isn't budging on his stance to not legalize marijuana in Texas. 

Colt Smith, executive Director of a local group, Hub City Normal, argues that right now, regulation is the safest bet. 

"It's obvious that the drug war is failing," Smith says. "With regulation, we can define who is able to purchase it, when and why they are able to purchase it, how much  they are able to purchase and who they can give it to." 

Further encouraging the idea, President Obama made headlines this week when he told the New Yorker magazine, "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol." 

Perry says the biggest issue with legalizing marijuana, is that it is not in compliance with federal law. 

"When you get into those in-consistentcies with the local level and federal level it create havoc and chaos," says Perry. 

"More than 14 million Americans are using pot regularly and all of the proceeds of that are going into funneling black market operations," says Smith. "Colorado and Washington are proving to us right now that if we tax it and regulate it.. we can do smart things with the proceeds of those sales." 

Experts say it could take anywhere from 10 to 15 years for a law to ever pass in Texas. 

"I think its closer to 15 or 20," Perry said. "I think as these social experiments go on throughout the country, we're going to recognize the thoughts of doing it."

Colt says legalizing marijuana's use doesn't mean it is encouraged. 

"It means that the people who choose to, don't have to face handcuffs as a result of making that choice," says Smith. 

"You gotta weigh the benefits and the cost of this," says Perry. I can't think of any benefits that would make that make sense."

A recent poll by the marijuana policy project shows 58% of Texans support legalizing marijuana for adults, along with taxing and regulating it just like alcohol. 

61% support reducing the possession of small amounts of marijuana to a civil penalty. 

One thing for sure-- it will be brought up in the next legislation. 

Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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