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The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas voters deserve to be listened to

Illustration by Devon Crew

On Jan. 31, The Office of the Attorney General of Texas (OAG) issued a statement detailing the lawsuit Ken Paxton has launched against the cities of Austin, San Marcos, Killeen, Elgin and Denton. The OAG issued the lawsuits due to the five cities adopting policies regarding marijuana possession that “violate Texas laws.”

Proposition A secured its spot on the November 2022 ballot after a local political advocacy group, Mano Amiga, worked to acquire over 4,000 signatures. Prop A, a measure to end citations and arrests for low levels of marijuana possession in San Marcos, passed on Nov. 8 with an overwhelming majority of 81.84% votes.

The lawsuits issued by Attorney General Ken Paxton are a childish measure. These actions show Texas residents elected government officials do not respect, nor do they care, what voters have to say — an issue all Texans should be afraid of.

In the press release from the OAG, Paxton stated he “will not stand idly by as cities run by pro-crime extremists violate Texas law and promote the use of illicit drugs that harm our communities.”

Four of the five cities facing a lawsuit have universities within them, and Elgin is a mere 30 minutes from The University of Texas at Austin. When looking at the big picture, it becomes clear the passage of the marijuana ordinances in these cities was likely due to the high population of college-aged adults – hardly what Paxton classified as “pro-crime extremists.”

According to a study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 44% of college students reported using marijuana substances in 2020. 26 states and territories have legalized the use of marijuana, including Washington D.C.

Marijuana should be at the bottom of the list of Texas government’s concerns. It is nowhere near as harmful as guns, which should be a top priority as there have already been four mass shootings in Texas this year.

“It’s ridiculous because the state of Texas is defying the will of its own residents,” Blake Coe, co-chair for the Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said. “Clearly this is a growing movement that’s been building over years and years and they only just now decided that this was something they would take a look at.”

According to a 2022 opinion column from The University Star, marijuana is classified in the same category as heroin or crack cocaine, making it much easier for one to be charged with a felony for possession.

“The collateral consequences [for possession charges] can be so detrimental,” Sam Benavides, communications director at Mano Amiga, said. “It can make it difficult for you to find housing, to find employment.”

Texas legalized the use of hemp through House Bill 1325 in 2019. Though some may think there is a major difference between hemp and marijuana, the two are both part of the Cannabaceae family according to Healthline. The only “legal” difference between the two is the THC content. THC is “primarily responsible for the ‘high’ associated with cannabis.”

The legalization of hemp was a step in the right direction for Texas, however, due to the large number of states that have fully legalized marijuana, it’s clear Texas is miles behind the rest of the country. The passage of Prop A is another movement in the right direction but the backward thinking of Texas officials is on the way to take down the actions of citizens.

Texas officials like Ken Paxton must begin to listen to the wishes of the voters. The overwhelming passage of Prop A shows what the community wants and those wishes cannot be ignored.

-Rhian Davis is a journalism sophomore

The University Star welcomes Letters to the Editor from its readers. All submissions are reviewed and considered by the Editor in Chief and Opinions Editor for publication. Not all letters are guaranteed for publication.

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