Gage Skidmore

Beto O’Rourke Embraces Cannabis Legalization In Bid for Texas Governor

Beto O’Rourke said that Texans “actually agree” on cannabis legalization when he announced his bid for the governor’s office on Monday.

Full story after the jump.

In a video announcement Monday declaring his bid for Texas governor, former U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D), included adult-use cannabis legalization in his platform. O’Rourke, who lost a Senate race to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, will challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. He also included cannabis reforms in his previous bids for U.S. Senate and the presidency.

The last time a Democrat held the Lonestar State’s highest office was in 1995.

“Those in positions of public trust have stopped listening to, serving, and paying attention to, and trusting the people of Texas, and so they’re not focused on the things that we really want them to do like making sure that we have a functioning electricity grid, or that we are creating the best jobs in America right here in Texas, or that we have world class schools, or that we make progress on the things that most of us actually agree on, like expanding Medicaid or legalizing marijuana.” O’Rourke, “I am Running for Governor,” Nov. 15, 2021

During his 2020 campaign for president, O’Rourke had released a plan for federal cannabis legalization, which included clemency for all federal cannabis prisoners, according to the Texas Tribune. The plan also called for a federal tax on the cannabis industry with the proceeds earmarked for a “Drug War Justice Grant” for those formerly incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis crimes.

“We need to not only end the prohibition on marijuana,” O’Rourke said in a 2019 statement regarding his philosophy on cannabis legalization, “but also repair the damage done to the communities of color disproportionately locked up in our criminal justice system or locked out of opportunity because of the War on Drugs.”

A 2020 American Civil Liberties Union report found Black people in Texas are 2.6 times more likely than white people to be arrested for cannabis possession.

O’Rourke is also the co-author of Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the U.S. and Mexico­ which examines the illegal cannabis trade between the U.S. and Mexico, with a particular focus on El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. The book was released in 2011 and is co-authored by Susie Byrd, who served with O’Rourke on the El Paso City Council.

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