Texas’ gubernatorial candidates revealed their stances on cannabis policy reform on the campaign trail this week, with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Democratic front-runner Beto O’Rourke both signaling their support for decriminalization.
At a campaign stop in Edinburg, Abbott said decriminalization policies would help keep the state’s prison system from becoming overwhelmed with low-level cannabis offenders, according to a 25 News report.
“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 said.
Meanwhile, O’Rourke has been an “outspoken supporter” of decriminalization, 25 News reported, and in a statement to the news outlet, he echoed Abbott’s desire to keep low-level cannabis offenders out of Texas’ prisons.
“Legalizing marijuana is the right thing to do,” he said. “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.”
Last spring, the Texas Legislature approved decriminalization measures to lower the penalties for the possession of 1 ounce or less of cannabis and the possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis concentrate.
Looking beyond decriminalization, a poll released last fall revealed that the majority of Texans support adult-use cannabis legalization.
The state’s Legislature will reconvene in January 2023.