During a campaign stop in Edinburg, Texas this week, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) expressed support for cannabis law reforms in the state, saying that low-level cannabis possession “is not the type of violation” that state officials “want to stockpile jails with,” according to a 25 News report. The comments come as one of the governor’s challengers, former Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, has included legalization as part of his campaign platform.
“Prison and jail is a place for dangerous criminals who may harm others and small possession of marijuana is not the type of violation that we want to stockpile jails with.” — Abbott via 25 News
In his November announcement declaring his gubernatorial bid, O’Rourke said that cannabis legalization was an issue “most of [Texans] actually agree on.”
“Legalizing marijuana is the right thing to do,” O’Rourke said in a statement to 25 News. “We can stop locking Texans up for a substance that’s legal in much of the rest of the country and allow police to focus on violent crime.”
McLennan County Republican Party chairman Bradford Holland pushed back on the reforms, contending that Colorado and Washington state have legalized cannabis “even more so than tobacco.” He added that it would be “foolish” to follow the cannabis rules implemented in those states. Holland noted that his party recognized the medical benefits of cannabis and that minor possession cases aren’t worth jailing people for.
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.
A Quinnipiac University poll released last month found the incumbent with a 15-point lead over the challenger, with 52% of respondents supporting Abbott and 37% supporting O’Rourke.
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