Legalization Stirring In The Heart Of Texas

We’ve written before about the “Just Say No” attitude of some states towards legalization of marijuana, Texas being one of them. We have also written extensively about cities and counties that ban marijuana within states that allow it, as per the below:

Our cannabis litigation lawyers are right now bringing what the New York Times sees as the key lawsuit to prohibit individual cities from banning marijuana in states where it is legal. To put it mildly, we generally view cities as a regressive force, not a positive one.

So we certainly were pleasantly surprised to hear how the Austin (Texas) City Council recently unanimously passed a  resolution endorsing medical marijuana. Before an Austin citizen spoke in support of the resolution, Mayor Leffingwell joked, “I want to remind you this item is on consent. So don’t try to talk us out of it.” The resolution provides as follows:

The City of Austin’s Legislative Program for the 84th Texas Legislature is hereby amended to support: (1) legislation that would create an affirmative defense to prosecution for patients who are being treated by a licensed physician and who use medical marijuana; or (2) legislation to legalize the use of medical marijuana.

Though Austin city council’s decision to support the above resolution has no direct affect on Texas policies and legislation on a state level (marijuana is still fully illegal and not decriminalized in Texas), its approval does indicate at least some movement towards changing minds in a state we thought would be one of the last to legalize marijuana. Yes, we know Austin has always been a bit different from Texas as a whole, but still, it is a start.  USA Today reported in January that Texan Governor Perry had “gone through a shift; he’s evolved. He represents the transition the state has gone through from being really, really tough on crime to being more sensible about it.” Shifting minds in Texas, especially in the state’s capital city, could encourage future legislative agendas regarding legalization in the conservative state.

Activist groups like Northeast Texas NORML, a subgroup of the national group NORML, and the Marijuana Policy Project are already on the ground in Texas and aiding local groups, like Austin’s Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism, in support of possible state legislative medical marijuana agendas in the upcoming session. In 2012, the Marijuana Policy Project helped pass Colorado’s recreational marijuana laws and is confident that within five years time they will be able to accomplish the same in Texas. In Colorado and Washington, ballot initiatives were used to begin the legalization process for marijuana. However, Texas does not have a ballot process, so state legislators will have to address the issue of marijuana legalization on their own.

Though we do not expect to see a change in Texas marijuana policy any time soon, we do applaud the Austin City Council for seeking to nudge state legislatures into action.