The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to a long slump for the Texas economy. Lawmakers have begun to roll back social-distancing laws and businesses are beginning to reopen, but the market has a long way to go before it recovers fully.
In the wake of the economic slowdown, advocates for marijuana are making the case that decriminalizing the substance could jump-start the economy. In this post, we will take a look at the likelihood of cannabis decriminalization in Texas and what this could mean for locals.
The implications for the economy
Texas currently has some of the strictest laws in the nation regarding cannabis. The state forbids recreational use and tightly regulates even medical use. However, the population’s attitude regarding drug use has become more relaxed. Some financial analysts and advocates for the marijuana industry believe that this is an opportune time to push for the decriminalization of marijuana in Texas. According to an estimate from Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, legal marijuana would generate an additional $1 billion in sales tax revenue for the state.
Penalties for marijuana crimes remain strict
Advocating for legal marijuana does not preclude criminal charges for drug offenses. The criminal penalties for crimes such as possession, manufacture and trafficking are harsh. For example, possession of less than two ounces of cannabis can result in up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. If the state were to decriminalize marijuana, then the penalty for possession, manufacture or trafficking could be merely a fine, if that.
In the meantime, marijuana remains illegal in the Lone Star State. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended multiple norms and changed our culture in a way that no one could have predicted just a few months ago. It remains to be seen whether the coronavirus could lead to a Texas in which marijuana is legal.