Representative files bill to legalize marijuana in Texas

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Photo Credit: Melanie Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) filed a bill Monday to legalize marijuana in Texas.

If passed, HB 2165 would repeal offenses related to possessing, selling and growing marijuana in Texas. The bill retracts all mentions of the word “marihuana” mentioned in the current provisions of the law.

In a statement, Simpson said, “God did not make a mistake when he made marijuana.” According to Simpson, the government should not have a role in marijuana regulation.

“Let’s allow the plant to be utilized for good — helping people with seizures, treating warriors with [post-traumatic stress disorder], producing fiber and other products — or simply for beauty and enjoyment,” Simpson said in the statement. “Government prohibition should be for violent actions that harm your neighbor — not of the possession, cultivation, and responsible use of plants.”

Simpson said marijuana should be regulated like any other plant.

 “I am proposing that this plant be regulated like tomatoes, jalapeños or coffee.” Simpson said. “Current marijuana policies are not based on science or sound evidence, but rather  misinformation and fear.”

Currently, marijuana is legal for recreational use in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia. 

Stephanie Hamborsky, Plan II and biology junior and president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said she is in favor of the bill. Hamborsky said she believes selling marijuana in the state would aid Texas’ economy. Colorado made $34.4 million in revenue from recreational marijuana sales between January–October 2014, according to The Washington Post.

 “I think overall this bill is a good thing. I think lawmakers are realizing … it is a huge economic incentive,” Hamborsky said. “They can tax it and regulate it, and the money goes to the state.”

 The legalization of marijuana would also help students charged with the use or possession of marijuana, according to Hamborsky.

 “As a student at UT, you’re working hard, and you want to graduate and get a job,” Hamborsky said. “If you have a blemish like that on your record, that doesn’t reflect your competence as an employee or professionalism. It can be a barrier for students.”

 There were 12 offenses related to the possession of drug paraphernalia last year on campus — 11 of which were cleared, according to University of Texas Police Department crime statistics.

 When asked whether UTPD supports the legalization of marijuana, UTPD spokeswoman Ronda Weldon said UTPD would uphold the new law if the bill were to pass.

 “The UTPD enforces whatever law is on the book,” Weldon said.

 Bridget Guien, communications director for College Republicans and economics freshman, said the organization is divided on the legalization of marijuana.

 “We currently do not have a stance on the legalization of marijuana,” Guien said in an email. “The members of our organization hold a variety of different opinions on this subject so I am unable to give a general opinion.”

University Democrats support medical and recreational use, production and sale of marijuana in Texas, according to Ashley Alcantara, UDems communications director and international relations and global studies senior. However, Alcantara said she thinks marijuana should be regulated in a similar fashion as alcohol. 

“University Democrats supports the regulation and decriminalization of marijuana, which aligns with the platform of the Texas Democratic Party.” Alcantara said in an email. “Both policies would create more reasonable law enforcement practices and reduce the incarcerated population, which are both very pressing issues.”