Catherine Krantz, US House Candidate in TX-04, shares what she’s hearing on the trail: Texas is ready for legalization.
Cannabis is the most commonly used drug in the world. 150 million users worldwide according to the World Health Organization. In Town Halls all across northeast Texas, Texans of all kinds ask me about legalizing cannabis. In fact, some of the staunchest supporters and the ones that got me paying attention were grandparents. Many can cite personal stories about friends or family members that have been helped by medical cannabis. Even conservative-leaning seniors (we’ll call them “church ladies”) tell me they are open to recreational legalization, especially if the added tax revenues could be used to benefit public schools.
I was shocked but I should not have been. Polls have been telling us this for years. A recent poll found that Americans support legalizing cannabis 2 to 1 (Douglas Schwartz. Quinnipiac University National Poll: Support for Marijuana Hits New High. April 26, 2018.). 96% of Democrats and 90% of Republicans support legalizing cannabis for medicinal use, 72% of Democrats and 37% of Republicans for recreational use.
Whether for medical use or economic boost, legalizing cannabis offers many benefits and few detriments. At the forefront (and getting the support of a whopping 90% of Americans) is legalizing cannabis for medical use, which is now legal in 30 states. Scientific studies and facts are piling up with conclusive evidence that cannabis is an effective medical treatment for chronic pain management, epilepsy and seizure disorders, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and improving patient-reported multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms. Further, science is now proving that medical cannabis is chemically effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a disorder that The National Institute of Health estimates affects 31% of combat veterans. Studies have also found that states with dispensaries for medical cannabis have substantial reductions in opioid abuse. Opioid overdoses have taken more American lives in the past five years than World War I and World War II combined, 50,000 deaths in 2016 alone.
Beyond the medical benefits, cannabis for recreational use has been a financial boon to the nine states where it is legal. None more so than Colorado. Colorado cannabis sales have now topped $4.25 billion dollars. Colorado State Representative Jonathan Singer said, “We’re actually receiving more tax revenue from marijuana than we are from alcohol.” Texas makes around $20 million dollars a month in tax revenues from the alcohol industry, so you could safely say legalizing cannabis would be a multi-billion dollar industry in Texas and bring us hundreds of millions of additional tax dollars.
The economic impact is not only through sales and tax revenue but also in jobs creation. Including business owners and employees, legalization created more than eighteen thousand full-time jobs in Colorado in 2016. We would also see dramatic savings in law enforcement — according to The Cato Institute prohibition enforcement cost state and federal governments more than $51 Billion dollars a year (Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall. Cato Institute: Policy Analysis No. 811, Four decades and counting: The continued failure of the war on drugs. April 12, 2017).
Add to the financial cost, the social cost of a criminal justice system clogged with non-violent drug offenders and a war on drugs that grievously and disproportionately affects lower-income people and communities of color.
Legalization is merely an idea whose time has come. None of the “Reefer Madness” fears have come to pass and so many of our outdated notions of cannabis killing brain cells and being a gateway drug have been totally debunked. Criminalization makes little financial, social or medical sense and it is time to move on. It is time to legalize and Texans are ready.
Catherine Krantz is the Democratic nominee for US House of Representatives, Texas District 4, running against two-term Republican incumbent, John Ratcliffe to represent 18 counties all across Northeast Texas in the US Congress. www.CatherineKrantzForCongress.com