So earlier I argued in favor of Legalization of Marijuana. Well I hate when people have great ideas and don’t follow through and with the recent arrest of Willie Nelson I believe now is as good a time as any to not only advocate legalization but roll out a plan. So I made what I imagine a roadmap to legalization would look like in my state. Critique it. Improve It. Trash it, as long as we are discussing it.
Texas First: An Outline of How To Legalize Marijuana in the Great State of Texas
With the recent surge in conservatives who ascribe to the libertarian ideology I believe that the state of Texas could be a viable dark horse candidate for marijuana legalization.Typically when discussing states who would be likely to legalize the sale and consumption of cannabis Texas is dismissed as a state of reflexive social conservatives who would never legalize marijuana. However I am of the opinion that with a strong public campaign, a concerted effort to disseminate the positives, and an appeal to the independent history of the state, Texas could be a practical marijuana legalization state. Here I will outline the way I believe such a campaign could succeed.
The campaign overall should appeal to the independent nature of the state. I would title the campaign “Texas First” in a nod to the pioneering nature of legalization and as an appeal to Texas pride. Campaign colors should be red, white, and blue to emphasize that the campaign for legalization would be beneficial to the state and not to Marijuana consumers alone. After the proper groundwork is made we would try to get Willie Nelson to cut statewide general ads in support of legalization to air over radio and during local television news broadcasts. Once again the ads must clear that legalization won’t lead to unchecked moral depravity but as a common sense solution to thousands of non-violent first time offenders being incarcerated for a habit that millions have, one of the solutions to an unbalanced budget, and a possible way to add to the pioneering nature of the state.
The first step I would take is preparing and strengthening support for a marijuana legalization initiative in areas where support may already be prevalent. I would begin by arranging meetings and then town-hall meetings with Parent Teacher Associations, religious, and community leaders in the urban areas and suburban areas of Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, and Fort Worth.
The purpose of these meetings would be to make a moral, economic, and political case for marijuana legalization. In interactions with these leaders advocates would must be respectful above all else even if they are met with dismissive attitudes. While these meetings may not produce outright support these leaders and communities would be less resistant if they meet an advocate who patiently and respectfully listens and acknowledges their beliefs while making a strong moral, political, and economic case for legalization. Advocates would preferably be members of the community themselves. Intelligence and an ability to debate would be essential to swaying the minds to make legalization possible. Patience would be key. Professional dress and grooming needs is required. Humility will endear advocates to an older demographic and make support not guaranteed but opposition less impassioned.
A tact that I believe should be adhered to in these meeting and in the overall campaign would be to emphasize the government savings instead of an addition to government revenue as Texans in general have shown to hew conservative and would be nonplussed about added Tax revenue. Also when speaking to leaders of historically underrepresented communities or to the community in general I would emphasize the outsized affect marijuana prohibition has had on their communities shown in numbers of arrests, convictions, and sentencing. If we are able to get even a few community leaders and win overall community support for a marijuana legalization initiative the job would be half-finished. If not these meetings would give legalization advocates a face other than that of the hedonistic hippy personalizing the campaign which would, lower the level of vitriol we would meet in op-ed pages and pulpits every Sunday, and opened the door for people to be swayed as the campaign continues.
After this first step I would target State Senators and Representatives to find a sponsor for a Cannabis legalization bill. If we can get one into the political system we would run ads in urban areas outlining the case in a way much similar to the case we laid out to community leaders. In rural areas a similar case would be made but also a case for Cannabis being a potential cash crop with a need for manufacturing and packaging jobs if it were legalized. If we can assert that legalization would be a net gain and not a descent into urban hedonism we can endear legalization to the business and agricultural community here in the state. These ads would end with a call to have supporters contact their State Representative and State Senator to advocate for the legalization of marijuana.
In order to debunk falsehoods ads and websites dedicated to the way in which Marijuana would be disseminated, the restriction of consumption and consequences of operating a vehicle or performing surgery while under the influence of marijuana would be necessary. Emphasis upon the fact that Marijuana would be treated like alcohol in rules concerning its consumption and sale need to be emphasized. Localities would have the power to decide whether they will or will not be “Green”, meaning whether they will allow Marijuana to be grown or sold in their communities should also be a point of emphasis.
The legalization Bill itself would be subject to much change as it must go through the Texas State Legislature but points that would be included is:
a. The removal of criminal consequences for marijuana possession with the intent of use
b. The removal of criminal consequences for the growth of marijuana up to a certain point for non-commercial use
c. The ability to allow localities to control whether they will allow marijuana to be grown with commercial intent in their communities
d. The ability to allow localities to control whether they will allow the sale of marijuana in their communities
e. A mechanism to decide who is allowed to grow, and sale marijuana such as a permit
f. Consequences for non-permitted commercial growth and sale of marijuana
g. The ability to allow the restriction of use of marijuana by private entities on their property
h. Language that applies the same penalties for partaking in dangerous activities while under the influence of alcohol to partaking in dangerous activities under the influence of Marijuana.
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