By: Sanja Ganja
Texans are begging for legalization but doubtful the beautiful state will legalize cannabis. Many of you may be shaking your head assuming Texas will never legalize THC, but predictions have been made that a miracle very well may happen within the decade. Advocates are drafting legislative documents and fighting all over Texas at this very moment for your right to medicate. Leniency on legal cannabis is happening throughout the United States while some are taking their time to study the facts first. Understandably, some republicans are scared to "Californicate" Texas, as some would say. Legalization can be known to bring on a whole new set of obstacles like a flood of people migrating in which can lead to higher taxes, gas prices, rent, industry saturation and more. We all have seen it happen in Oregon and Colorado, but these obstacles can provide opportunities for improvements to the economy as they bring more cash flow which can be re-invested in the infrastructure, school systems, higher pay, etc.
Developments to change medical marijuana legislation aren’t foreseen by all experts. The real game changer hasn’t happened yet. Texas NORML is high on the case and working tirelessly to push for a legal Texas while educating the state on the aftermath of legalization. Texans are still confused on the accidental legalization that took place when the government made a small mistake igniting more questions. Hemp has gained a lot of exposure throughout Texas gaining popularity with both parties. Marijuana was accidentally decriminalized because of discrepancies in a bill, but Republicans have full control of the House of Representatives and aren’t leaning to changing anything federally anytime soon. The state hemp plan is still awaiting approval and will begin negotiations with the FDA in beginning 2020. As of now, in Texas, hemp and marijuana are still defined as the same thing. Whoops! Looks like some serious changes need to be made for proper education and law shifts.
47 States have passed hemp legislation, but Texas has lacked funding as shifting regulations is a costly matter. The road to legalization has been paved by CBD infiltrating the retail space throughout the state. The interest in CBD has skyrocketed, introducing infused gummies and tinctures as well as hundreds of other products and brands. Texas may be known for its southern conservative moral, however, it has progressed by allowing hemp products to be advertised and sold. In June, legislation was passed to legalize hemp and hemp based products. First CBD, then THC? We can only hope, but if legalization happens, what is to be expected for the millions of people residing in the Lone Star state? New jobs will be seen as well as more health conscious people. The existence of grow operations and dispensaries for retail would increase job growth creating bud tenders, growers, trimmers and more. Business entrepreneurs could venture into investments of brands that would migrate to the state and new ones that would arise.
Economic wellness is to be expected with big bucks showering the Federal government and the State. Taxes are already low for Texas, but the positive impact on tax revenue will only increase the attraction people have to the already affordable state. Sales in Colorado in 2015 totaled $996 million. The following year North America’s sales increased by 30% overall. Californian jobs increased to 67,000 while Washington dominated with approximately 47,000 jobs and Colorado trekking behind with 44,000 jobs. Sourced from Leafly an NPR “Special report: Cannabis Jobs Count.” Just imagine what can happen for Texas.
With these facts, Texas would surely gain financial success with potential to do more. House representatives in Texas have studied economic benefits of marijuana. The cannabis workforce increased by 21% in 2017 showing canna-business is a smart move for any state. The economic boom from cannabis could expand the possibilities in Texas. Legal cannabis in the United States hired 64k in 2018; these are the facts we hope will get Texas excited to jump on the bandwagon. The US Farm bill, legalizing hemp in the US, was a great start in launching states to set up compliance and prepare for serious change. The bill distinguishes the difference between hemp and marijuana based on the level of THC contained in the plant. The plant is considered hemp if it is less than .03% THC or tetrahydrocannabinol.
The potential to lower crime in large cities is also prevalent and a hot topic with advocates. In other states decriminalizing cannabis has lowered black market sales driving crime down. Studies have shown legal pot has been linked to lowering the usage of hard drugs and even binge drinking. Washington and Oregon had lower rates in rape and property crimes in 2018 and Mexico boarded states had lowered violent crimes after the legalization.
With benefits ranging from lowered crime to a gain in economic wealth, it’s only a matter of time before Texas has its day. While legislators are bickering over the difference between hemp and marijuana, Texans are patiently waiting for the day they can walk into a cannabis dispensary proud.