Texas lawmakers will not focus on marijuana legislation during the 2015 session, according to Governor Greg Abbott, who does not anticipate much time to be spent discussing the issue.
During his State of the State address speech at the Dallas Regional Chamber, Abbott stated,
“I don’t think decriminalizing marijuana is going to happen this session.”
This is in response to the massive increase in support for marijuana legalization throughout the United States, and Texans are included in the green rush.
Rep. David Simpson introduced a bill this session that would decriminalize the use and possession of personal amounts of cannabis for adults. Rep. Simpson refers to marijuana as “God’s plant,” and admits that although he does not use it, many people experience benefits from using marijuana, especially medicinally. This is why he sponsored the decriminalization bill.
Most lawmakers, however, have different priorities, according to Gov. Abbott. During the speech he elaborated,
“I will see Texas continuing to lead the way of diverting away from activity that involves drug use and helping people lead more productive lives.”
Although Abbott did not share his personal views on marijuana use, he did express support for efforts to wean people off the drug rather than continuing to sentence them to serve time in jail.
Some Republicans, including Abbott, have been in support of initiating drug diversion programs rather than prison sentences for non-violent marijuana arrests. Abbott also explained that Texas has been a leader in implementing these types of programs. He pointed out,
“Our goal is not to stockpile prisons with people who are arrested with minor possession issues, our goal is to help those who are found with minor possession take a pathway that is more productive than what jail provides.”
Instead of concentrating on marijuana legislation, Abbott feels that securing the border should be the main focus, followed by the protection of Texas citizens. He did not comment as to whether he preferred a bill that only focused on border security or one that also took immigration policies into consideration. “Our primary focus has to be securing the border and then protecting the safety of Texans inside of Texas,” Abbott concluded.