The controversy surrounding marijuana legalization in America has taken the spotlight in regards to attitudes towards the drug as a whole. As for Texas, legalization has yet to take place, yet lawmakers are recently reconsidering the legal penalties for possession. There currently exist a number of penalties and fines for marijuana possession, but the growing number of those incarcerated as a result has caused many to reassess the ways society views the drug, and the crippling costs to support those behind bars for posession.
Although laws involving medical marijuana are currently changing, there is still a long way to go when it comes to actual possession penalties, and who, exactly, is allowed to possess the drug. KSAT News reflects on the 2015 “Compassionate Use Act,” a Senate Bill signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott that requires the Department of Public Safety to create a registry of physicians treating epilepsy for the purpose of prescribing cannabis to patients. While KSAT reports that this act is a huge relief to those in need of medical marijuana, it nonetheless contains limitations. All medical marijuana patients have to prove diagnosis of epilepsy, be under current physician care, tried FDA-approved drugs to no avail and be a permanent resident of Texas.
The societal shift currently underway regarding marijuana may ease some patients, but has not yet affected those already behind bars for possession of the drug. An article in Newsweek comments on New Jersey Senator Cory Booker’s recent introduction of a bill that could potentially drop marijuana from the country’s list of controlled substances. Federal law considers marijuana to be as dangerous as heroin, but if Booker’s bill passes, it could free thousands of state and federal inmates incarcerated for possession and trafficking. This retroactive change could also improve the future of financial conditions of jails and prisons in America.