30,000-strong petition will put cannabis reform on the Austin ballot in 2022  

When New York legalized cannabis earlier this year, it prompted a number of states that had been sitting on the fence to follow suit and press ahead with their own legal reforms. But legalization in the Lone Star State is still a distant prospect – or is it? The state might be some way from going down the same road as New York, but pressure from activists has ensured that the topic of legislative reform will nevertheless be on the table in Austin next May. 

 The Austin Freedom Act 

 Ground Game Texas has spent the past 12 months gathering support for its Austin Freedom Act.  The Act seeks to decriminalize marijuana. That doesn’t mean that cannabis shops will start springing up in the streets of Austin – there is a difference between decriminalization and legalization. What it will bring about, however, is a new level of tolerance, whereby low level marijuana misdemeanors will no longer result in citations or arrests.  

 It will also outlaw no-knock warrants of the type that led to the tragic and high-profile death of Breonna Taylor last year. With almost 35,000 signatures, the Act has more than enough support to be put to the vote next year, or it could even be adopted before then.  

 Expanding medical use 

 It represents just one of a number of pro-cannabis initiatives that are being pursued across Texas. A parallel process of expanding the state’s medical marijuana program is also underway. Strains like Gorilla Glue don’t just pack a punch for recreational users. They are also used to treat a variety of medical symptoms – see https://www.cannaconnection.com/strains/gorilla-glue for more details.  

 Last year, the State Legislature passed two bills in this area. One expanded the state’s medical cannabis program, while the other opened the door to studying the therapeutic potential of certain psychedelics for veterans. 

 Public support 

 Both Texas Southern University and the University of Houston have carried out extensive market research. They concluded that around two thirds of Texans support decriminalization, while more than half are in favor of full scale legalization. At the other end of the scale, only 13 percent believe cannabis should be completely prohibited. 

 It marks a remarkable shift in opinions – 10 years ago, Texas Southern asked whether cannabis should be legalized “for any purpose” and 42 percent answered yes. When they asked the same question this year, that number had risen to 60 percent.  

 The campaigning continues 

 Ground Game Texas, meanwhile, knows the Austin Freedom Act is only the beginning. Similar Acts are likely to go on the ballot in Killeen and San Marcos later in the year, assuming they achieve the necessary support.  

 Public opinion has clearly shifted in favor of cannabis. A House bill for statewide decriminalization was approved in 2019 but never advanced to the senate. As the decriminalization process continues at city level, it seems inevitable that statewide reform will surely become an agenda item again, if not in 2022 then almost certainly in 2023.  

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