Gov. Greg Abbott shared his views on marijuana use in Texas during Friday night's gubernatorial debate. He mentioned one idea that may have surprised marijuana advocates.
“What I would be open to talking to the legislature about would be reducing the penalty for possession of two ounces or less from a class B misdemeanor to a class C misdemeanor,” Abbott said.
Jax Finkel, executive director for the Texas Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said her group is excited to work with the governor on the issue, assuming he is re-elected.
“He said he doesn’t want people sitting in jails, and we agree with that. People should not be in jail for possession of a plant, and so we look forward to those conversations with his office,” Finkel said.
Abbott had also signed the state’s historic Compassionate Use Act into law in 2015, which allows doctors to prescribe to patients with intractable epilepsy a cannabis oil that is high in cannabidiol or CBD, and low in THC.
During the bill’s signing that year, he also shared his views on general marijuana use.
“I remain convinced that Texas should not legalize marijuana, nor should Texas open the door for conventional marijuana should be used for medical or medicinal purposes, and as governor, I will not allow it,” Abbott said.
During the debate, Abbott was asked, if he were re-elected, would he consider expanding current state law to include more qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, including post-traumatic stress disorder and autism.
“More recently, I’ve had conversations with veterans as well as parents of autistic children and others, who make a very strong compelling case about legalization of medical marijuana. I've seen however in states that authorize that abuses that take place that raise concerns, so I’m still not convinced yet,” Abbott said.
Abbott faces Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez on Nov. 6. The legislative session begins on Jan. 8th.