On Tuesday voters in Colorado and Washington state passed laws allowing for recreational marijuana use. Most we spoke to say this will not happen in Texas in the foreseeable future, even for medicinal purposes. But there are some who say "never say never".
State Representative Elliott Naishtat from Austin says "clearly in this country, the direction is moving toward, not just allowing people to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, but in the direction of de-criminalizing and legalizing marijuana for small quantities." He has been pushing a bill that would not legalize marijuana use, but allow charges for users with a doctor's recommendation to be dropped. There are some who oppose this bill strongly.
State representative John Frullo says "I think Texas does a lot of things right and it's why we're leading the country in a number of areas. I don't see that making it to, like I said through committee."
Legislative analyst Dan Riffle from the Marijuana Policy Project disagrees saying "I think a lot of folks said maybe ten years ago that there was no chance of a law passing in Colorado. We passed medical marijuana there, some folks got to see that, you know, marijuana isn't really that big of a deal. It's a relatively benign substance, they saw that regulation does work and can limit the growth of the industry. You can limit ads and most of all you can limit the amount of tax dollars that you're wasting locking up adults just for using a substance that's safer than alcohol. So once they saw that, public opinion changed pretty quickly, and I think that it will likely chance pretty quickly in Texas."
State Representative Charles Perry of Lubbock says this will not happen on his watch. "You'll spend more money picking up the problems it creates, rather than the tax revenue you get. ... Just think about the wasted resources and wasted energy just to put something on the streets that's legal that has no social redeeming value whatsoever."
Attorney Curtis Parrish says federal law trumps state law when it comes to illegal substances and pot is illegal under federal law. So even if a Texas law were to allow marijuana use, there is the federal government in the way. Riffle does not see it as an obstacle saying "they don't have the resources to go in and arrest tens of thousands individuals just for possession of small amounts of marijuana."
Parrish and Perry both say it should be the state's right to pursue this type of initiative without the feds getting in the way.