AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Texans increasingly signal their acceptance of marijuana legalization, the Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, a Republican, said he supports the expansion of medical marijuana access and nodded to conservative states that have legalized the drug for adults altogether.
In a letter, Miller said he believes government should only be allowed to make something illegal “for a powerful reason or set of facts.” He also compared the marijuana laws now to the alcohol prohibition of the 1920s.
“As I look back, I believe that cannabis prohibition came from a place of fear, not from medical science or the analysis of social harm. Sadly, the roots of this came from a history of racism, classism, and a large central government with an authoritarian desire to control others. It is as anti-American in its origins as could be imaginable,” he wrote.
Miller pointed to other states around the country that have outright legalized medical marijuana, including more conservative-leaning states like Oklahoma and Florida. He also noted that eighteen states have legalized marijuana for all adults, including Arizona and Montana.
“While I am not sure that Texas is ready to go that far, I have seen firsthand the value of cannabis as medicine to so many Texans,” Miller wrote.
On the opposite end of the discussion, and perhaps most vocally opposed to decriminalization in Texas, is Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.
“The Lt. Governor has made it pretty explicitly clear that he is not on board for lessening the state’s drug laws around marijuana,” said Joshua Blank with UT Austin’s Texas Politics Project. “But I think like any other public figure, if pressure continues to mount, especially within his own party, there’s no reason he can’t change his mind.”
Meanwhile, during his re-election campaign, Gov. Greg Abbott has struck a moderate tone when it comes to marijuana and has signaled he’s open to the idea of decriminalization of it.
“Small possession of marijuana is not the type of violation that we want to stockpile jails with,” the governor said.
“It is time for all of us, including the Governor, members of the Texas Legislature and others to come together and set aside our political differences to have an honest conversation about cannabis: where we have been, where we are going and what role government should properly play,” Miller ended his letter. “We owe it to our fellow Texans, especially those who are suffering, to lead or just get out of the way if we cannot formulate effective cannabis policy for Texas.”