Austin residents celebrate 4/20 by gathering outside the Governor’s Mansion

Some Texans spent that 4/20 blazing past the Governor’s Mansion.

“The Stoners are all coming for 4/20,” James Murphy said.

Others did not participate, but added their voice to the call for the legalization of marijuana in Texas. Altogether, about three dozen people have come together to say it’s time to regulate and tax marijuana, rather than criminalize it.

“Why don’t we take advantage of it? Murphy said.

“There are a lot of people of color who have been sent to prison,” Ollie Barker said. “It’s really unfair. How are they supposed to reintegrate into society?”

Those comments were echoed on Wednesday by the Texas Democratic Party, which officially called for the legalization of pot in Texas, as did its gubernatorial candidate, Beto O’Rourke.

“Right now we’re spending half a billion dollars a year locking people up for a substance that’s legal in most of the rest of the country,” O’Rourke said. “We’re also losing half a billion dollars in tax revenue, in conservative terms.”

Although Governor Greg Abbott did not outright support decriminalization, a spokesperson said in a statement: “Governor Abbott believes jail and jail are a place for dangerous criminals who can harm others, and possession of a small amount of marijuana is not the type of offense we want to stock jails with. .”

“This is a dismal and clearly insufficient effort to appease those who might support more enhanced medical marijuana,” said Joe Pastusek, who participated in Wednesday’s protest.

Texas has a limited low-THC medical marijuana program, covering conditions like PTSD and cancer, which Abbott supports.

A bill that would have reduced criminal penalties for marijuana possession passed the Texas House last year, though it failed in the Senate.

In 2020, the Texas GOP doubled down on its opposition to the legalization and decriminalization of illicit drugs, including marijuana.

But polls show a growing number of Texans think it’s time for that to change.

“People should be able to do anything with their bodies when it comes to marijuana use,” Joey Benton said.

“At the end of the day, all these other states have legalized it, so we look like mannequins here,” Aralyn Hughes said.

In May’s special election, Austin residents will vote on whether or not to eliminate enforcement of low-level marijuana crime.

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