Marijuana is a topic that few municipal leaders thought they would have to address as representatives. The legalization of cannabis is usually left to federal and state authorities. However, a recently proposed bill would grant this power to municipalities. Under House Bill 1937, introduced by Rep. Jessica González of Dallas, cities and counties would have the right to legalize recreational cannabis within their jurisdictional boundaries.
Giving municipalities the power to decide
In last year’s midterms elections, five Texas cities voted to decriminalize cannabis within their borders. HB-1937 would take things one step farther by allowing cities and counties not just to decriminalize the substance but also legalize it. The bill has three main tenets:
- City and county governments could pass measures to legalize small amounts of recreational cannabis within municipal borders.
- Adults could possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis legally.
- Cannabis products would have a 10% tax that would fund regulation, quality control and oversight.
Enforcement of the law would fall to the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation.
A compromise for cannabis opponents and advocates
Texas’s laws regarding cannabis and marijuana are much more conservative than those of most other states. Though polls suggest that most Texans favor looser regulations for medicinal and recreational weed, state legislation has yet to reflect this. The last significant piece of marijuana legislation passed in Texas is the Compassionate Use Act of 2015, which allows the use of low-THC cannabis to treat certain medical conditions.
HB-1937 offers a compromise for voters who are against recreational marijuana and those in favor of it. It would grant municipal entities the freedom to reflect their constituents’ wishes. Municipalities whose residents oppose it could continue to enforce Texas’s current policies.
Bill reflects the pressure to address recreational cannabis
Many municipal leaders never anticipated that they would find themselves facing the option of legalizing marijuana for their constituents. However, if HB-1937 passes, it could be a very real option in upcoming years. Even if the bill does not make it, voter demand to further regulate or deregulate recreational cannabis use will no doubt continue to grow.