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Greg Abbott’s Battle on Marijuana: In 2023, 40,000 People Were Arrested in Texas for Cannabis!


CNS NewsTexas, despite evolving attitudes towards marijuana legalization and decriminalization across the United States, remains steadfast in its stringent cannabis policies. In 2023, Texas law enforcement agencies reported an alarming figure – over 40,000 arrests for marijuana possession, earning the state the dubious distinction of leading the nation in such arrests.

The state does maintain a medical marijuana program; however, its scope is severely limited, permitting only patients with specific qualifying conditions to access low-THC cannabis oil. Recreational use and cultivation of marijuana remain strictly prohibited, with possession of any amount deemed a criminal offense.

Offenders face hefty fines ranging from $2,000 to $50,000 and potential jail sentences ranging from 180 days to 99 years, depending on the quantity and type of substance involved. Efforts to reform these punitive measures have faced significant obstacles. While the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill in May 2023 aimed at preventing arrests for possession of small amounts of cannabis and instead issuing citations and fines, the bill languished in the Senate and failed to become law.

Several cities and counties within Texas have taken independent steps to mitigate the harsh consequences of marijuana enforcement. Municipalities like Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio have implemented cite-and-release or diversion programs, allowing offenders to sidestep arrest or prosecution by paying fines or completing drug education courses.

Greg Abbott's Battle on Marijuana: In 2023, 40,000 People Were Arrested in Texas for Cannabis!

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However, these initiatives have encountered resistance from state officials, exemplified by Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit against five cities in February 2024, alleging violations of state law due to their enactment of marijuana ordinances. The impact of Texas’ stringent marijuana policies extends beyond legal ramifications, manifesting in profound social and economic consequences.

According to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union, Texas allocated over $311 million towards marijuana enforcement in 2018, diverting resources from other pressing public safety needs. Moreover, the enforcement disproportionately affects people of color, who are more likely to be targeted, arrested, and convicted compared to their white counterparts, despite similar rates of usage.

As attitudes towards marijuana evolve nationwide, Texas’ steadfast adherence to punitive measures stands as an outlier. While localized efforts have sought to ameliorate the repercussions of marijuana enforcement, they continue to face legal and political resistance at the state level.

Greg Abbott's Battle on Marijuana: In 2023, 40,000 People Were Arrested in Texas for Cannabis!

Until Texas embraces a more pragmatic and equitable cannabis policy, thousands of its residents will remain ensnared in a cycle of criminalization and collateral consequences for engaging with a substance increasingly tolerated elsewhere in the country.

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