The legalization of marijuana in Canada, and the impending legal change to marijuana laws in Mexico now leaves Texas isolated as the only jurisdiction in that area where cannabis isn’t legal. This “engulfment” is likely to generate sufficient pressure to cause a change in Texas sooner rather than later.
Already, public opinion in the state has shifted in favor of lesser punishment for those found in possession of small amounts of cannabis.
Moreover, Kim Ogg, the Harris County District Attorney, entered office in 2017 and started a new program in which small-time cannabis offenders would avoid jail time and a criminal record if they enrolled for a drug education class and stayed clear of re-arrest on similar charges.
This “diversion program” has also been replicated in at least one other Texas county. Ogg reasoned that it wasn’t helpful to devote badly needed resources to hunting down, prosecuting and incarcerating people on minor drugs charges and yet those resources could be put to better use to make communities safer by dealing with other pressing law enforcement issues, such as stemming the growth of child sex abuse online.
In a parallel measure that shows where Texan law is going, the state legislature passed a law in 2015 enabling doctors to prescribe CBD oil for patients whose conditions were unresponsive to the existing conventional drugs.
That law in effect shows that medical marijuana isn’t far off from being legally available as a complementary treatment beyond the narrow description provided as that bill was passed.
Interestingly, Texas also has the distinction of having the cities where the highest amount of cannabis is consumed despite the existence of prohibitionist laws. Research has it that Houston consumes approximately 21 metric tons of marijuana annually. This makes the city rank at number four on the list of the top ten cities in terms of marijuana consumption around the country.
Dallas is also in the top 10, coming in at number seven with an annual consumption of approximately 15 metric tons of cannabis.
So, where is all that weed coming from if no cultivation is allowed in Texas?
In the past, smugglers met the demand by moving cannabis from Mexico to the Lone Star state. However, the relaxation of cannabis laws in the states neighboring Texas has provided a domestic (U.S.) source for the Texas cannabis black market.
In fact, consumers now prefer the superior quality of marijuana produced within the U.S. rather than the crop from Mexico that doesn’t conform to any quality standards. It is now known that licensed growers in the states where medical marijuana is allowed produce much more than what can be consumed within those states. The excess product finds its way into the black market, and this reality has been causing federal prosecutors sleepless nights.
Wouldn’t it be wiser for Texas, and the federal government to legalize cannabis in order to end this cat and mouse game with the black market? Such a decision would ease many of the legal minefields in the way of Canopy Rivers Inc. (TSX.V: RIV), Cannabis Strategic Ventures, Inc. (OTC: NUGS) and the entire cannabis industry.
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