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Why Can’t Texas Vote to Legalize Marijuana?

In states like California, the state constitution allows for electors to vote on referenda to become law during general elections. So, for instance, the question of whether marijuana should be legalized was left up to California citizens under California Proposition 64 in 2016. That measure passed with 57% of the vote which is why recreational use of marijuana is now legal in that state.

So why then can we not do the same thing here in Texas and vote for legalization? The short answer is that we actually can, it’s just a much more difficult process. In California a ballot proposition can be placed on the ballot either by the California State Legislature adding it or by a petition signed by registered voters.  A petition in California only needs signatures from 8 percent of those who voted in the last election for governor to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot or 5 percent for a statute.

In Texas it is much harder to get a ballot measure. The only way to do so is for the legislature to vote to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. This requires a joint resolution from both the Texas State Senate and The Texas House of Representatives. The resolution must then be adopted by a two-thirds vote in both houses. That means at least 100 Texas State Congressmen and 21 Texas State Senators must agree just to have the measure put on the ballot. Only then will Texas voters get to decide on a ballot measure.

How close are we to having a ballot measure on marijuana here in the Lone Star State? Well it turns out Rep. Ron Reynolds has proposed HJR 21 which is a proposed constitutional amendment to regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis for medical purposes. At the same time State Senator Jose Rodriguez has introduced SJR 8 which is a proposed constitutional amend to regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis for recreational purposes.

Both amendments if adopted by the house and senate would not allow voters to decide on a law legalizing marijuana, however. Instead the ballot measures would only direct the legislature to authorize and create laws governing marijuana use in the state.

We are only at the beginning of the process and it is not clear what options for legalization Texas may produce. In the meantime, Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC is here to defend you if you are arrested for a marijuana offense and we will keep you updated as things develop.

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  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
    The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has worked to build coalitions of legal organizations in order to provide a forum for important legal issues.
  • DFW NORML
    The Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of NORML is a grassroots, educational non-profit organization dedicated to fighting cannabis prohibition in the Lone Star State.
  • NORML
    NORML supports the removal of all criminal penalties for the private possession and responsible use of marijuana by adults, including the cultivation for personal use, and the casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts.
  • Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
    DCDLA a unified front committed to protecting and ensuring, by rule of law, individual rights guaranteed by the Texas and Federal Constitutions in criminal cases.
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • DFW NORML
  • NORML
  • Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

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