SAN ANTONIO -- Call it a windfall for weed. Four states approved the recreational use of marijuana last week, and four others approved the medicinal use.
And Texas could follow suit.
California, Maine, Nevada and Massachusetts joined other states and passed measures for recreational marijuana on Election Day. Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas approved medical marijuana initiatives.
But what about Texas?
“We don’t have that unique opportunity to put it on a ballot and vote on it as a Texan,” said Luis Nakomoto, the executive director of NORML, a group lobbying to legalize marijuana across the country.
State representatives want voters to decide if marijuana should be legalized. They filed “Senate Joint Resolutions 17 and 18” on Monday, the first day of bill filing for the 2017 legislative session.
One resolution would legalize marijuana outright while the other would allow marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“In most states that have passed reform, the voters are allowed to look at it on a ballot and say yes or no on reform. Here in Texas, we rely on our state reps to advocate for us,” said Nakomoto, who says that NORML also wants Texas legislators to provide more forgiveness for marijuana-related crimes.
In Bexar County, District Attorney Nico LaHood already offers leniency to people caught with small, personal amounts of marijuana.
Lawmakers have the same idea. The bills they propose are aimed at reducing penalties and reclassifying convictions for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana.
“The mentality is changing and kind of catching up to the science behind cannabis, at the very least,” Nakomoto said. “So now there’s more support that the legislators can stand on and make those important decisions for us.”