“As a Christian,” Texas state Rep. David Simpson (R) wrote last March, “I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same” As a result, Simpson added, “I’m especially cautious when it comes to laws banning plants. I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.”
It’s certainly a novel reason to support marijuana legalization, but, in the blood red state of Texas, Simpson may actually succeed in getting his way on this issue. The state’s House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee voted 5–2 on Wednesday in favor of legislation sponsored by Simpson that would legalize marijuana in Texas.
Should this bill ultimately become law, Texas would be the first state to legalize marijuana through the ordinary legislative process. Two states, Colorado and Washington, plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes through ballot initiatives.
Simpson’s legislation still faces high hurdles before it can become law, including the rest of the state house, the state senate and a governor who is so closely aligned with reactionary conservatives that he recently ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise that conspiracy theorists have claimed is a prelude to a military invasion of Texas. Currently, marijuana is illegal for all purposes under Texas law, including medicinal use.
Nevertheless, the fact that Simpson’s bill advanced at all is a sign of just how rapidly the nation’s views on marijuana laws are changing. A majority of Americans currently favor outright legalization, and the trend line clearly points towards increasing support, according to a recent Pew poll:
In 2013, another poll found that 58 percent of Texans support legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol.