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What Could Marijuana Legalization Mean For Texas?

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Marijuana for sale at Mint Dispensary in Guadalupe on Nov. 4, 2020. Arizona voters passed Proposition 207, legalizing possession
Michael Chow/The Republic/USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Co
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Marijuana for sale at Mint Dispensary in Guadalupe on Nov. 4, 2020. Arizona voters passed Proposition 207, legalizing possession of as much as an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older and set up a licensing system for retail sales of the drug.

Several U.S. states voted to legalize marijuana in 2020, and legalization bills have been filed ahead of Texas' 2021 state legislative session.

What are the prospects of passage in Texas and potential implications of making pot legal statewide?

State Senator-elect and former State Representative and San Antonio City Councilman Roland Gutierrez's Senate Bill 140 would legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational use. He says doing so would produce $3.2 billion in state revenue and create 30,000 high-paying jobs, as Texas faces a budget shortfall in the wake of COVID-19.

What are the pros and cons of loosening marijuana laws? What are the biggest challenges for implementing legalization at the state level? Is there pushback from GOP leadership or law enforcement?

How would the industry be regulated and how could the state use the money it garners from those sales? What's being done in other states and how are those policies working so far?

Why is marijuana illegal and how has that status impacted American lives over the past few decades? What does scientific research indicate about its effects on human health?

What is known about who uses marijuana and why? What percentage of Texans support legalization and will that be reflected in how lawmakers vote on the issue?

Guests:

  • State Senator-elect Roland Gutierrez, Texas Senate District 19
  • Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy
  • John Hudak, deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management and senior fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution, and author of "Marijuana: A Short History"
  • Staci Gruber, Ph.D., director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core and director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) at McLean Hospital and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School

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*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, December 1.