Cannabis Legalization Means Big Bucks for the Lone Star State

Texas would save almost a quarter billion dollars, according to an official state fiscal report, if the legislature would pass a bill to change the status of marijuana in the state to that of any other plant, like tomatoes. 

Introduced by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), House Bill 2165 (HB2165) repeals current provisions under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the Health and Safety Code, and Tax Code to end the state-level prohibition on marijuana. Since FBI statistics show that approximately 99 of 100 arrests for marijuana are done under state and not federal law, passage would effectively block federal attempts to keep the plant illegal.

“I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix,” Rep. Simpson said in a TribTalk op/ed that was published shortly after his legislation was introduced.

The fiscal note for the bill was released on April 8. It discusses various areas where the state would save significant funds by passing the bill.  This includes the thousands of people in the “criminal or juvenile justice system” each year, and a “reduced workload in local criminal courts and some reduction in expenses.”

The five-year savings are estimated as follows:

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 9.24.22 AMHB2165 differs from other marijuana-related reforms that are popping up in state legislatures across the country. Rather than setting up a framework for decriminalization or a program to tax and regulate the substance, HB2165 simply removes every mention of marijuana from the criminal code. If the bill passes, the state of Texas will look at marijuana similar to the way it does lettuce, tomatoes, or any other benign plant being consumed and distributed lawfully in the marketplace.

This would be a very effective means of resisting federal marijuana policy because Washington D.C. doesn’t have the ability to enforce its marijuana laws without assistance. In Colorado, the feds tried to crack down on marijuana after that state voted to legalize. They hit about 12 shops out of 400 in the Denver area, impacting about 3 percent of the medical marijuana business in one city. In other words, it was a drop in the bucket that did nothing to even slow down the marijuana industry in Colorado.

After its marijuana legalization experiment, Colorado has received an influx of revenue from taxing and regulating marijuana. However, that is not even necessary for a state to improve its fiscal standing. Merely by removing the laws and replacing them with nothing, millions of taxpayer dollars are saved for the state of Texas. As it turns out, marijuana legalization is actually one of the most fiscally conservative reforms in recent history.

ACTION ITEMS

For Texas: Take action to support this legislation HERE.

For other states: Contact your state legislators and urge them to introduce a supporting bill to HB2165 such as our P.E.A.C.E (Preventing Excessive Allocations for Cannabis Enforcement) Act.