AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas GOP platform has endorsed a bipartisan push to decriminalize minor cannabis offenses, but Republican Gov. Greg Abbott isn’t on board.
That all but ensures that Texas will remain in the company of more than a dozen states where possessing any amount of marijuana can result in a criminal record. A Democrat leading the state Legislature’s current decriminalization effort said political realities in the Texas Capitol forced him to weaken his bill ahead of a key House vote yesterday.
The chamber passed the measure on a 98-43 vote on Monday, drawing support from both sides of the aisle.
The revised measure would reduce penalties for those with an ounce or less of cannabis to a Class C misdemeanor—eliminating arrests, but still making possession a crime.
The Gov Ain’t Budging
The failure of the bill’s original language underscores how politically resistant Texas’ GOP leaders are to relaxing marijuana laws, even a year after voters in neighboring Oklahoma fully legalized medical marijuana.
It also effectively defies the Texas Republican Party’s own platform, which GOP delegates overwhelmingly revised last summer to support decriminalization for possessing an ounce or less.
“This was hugely popular among delegates and hugely popular among the party,” said Jeff LeBlanc, who served on the Texas GOP committee that drafted the new platform. “We have a disconnect with the lieutenant governor and the governor on this issue. It’s frustrating for us and I don’t know why that is.”
Meanwhile, a new poll has found that a plurality of Texans believe marijuana should be fully legalized. An Emerson College poll released on Monday found 38 percent of Texas voters believe cannabis should be fully legalized. Another 35 percent believe it should be legalized, but only for medical purposes.
Currently, at least four states have designated possession