The cloud of stigma against marijuana seems to be fading in some parts of the United States, but Texas lags behind.

Washington D.C. and 10 states have fully legalized recreational use of the drug. Unfortunately, Texas has yet to adopt this forward-thinking position.

As of now, it is considered a class B misdemeanor for low-level possession of marijuana with the possibility of up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. House Bill 63 looks to change Texas’ current possession laws. The bill would change to a civil fine of $250 with no jail time.

The bill does not go far enough. The use of marijuana should be completely decriminalized. Proven studies show that the social stigma is fading while the medical benefits are becoming more accepted.

HB 63, though flawed, is a small step toward ending the criminalization and the stigma the state government has against marijuana currently. Marijuana has been proven to have medicinal benefits.

The number of college students who partake in smoking weed recreationally is also growing.

Texas is rightfully, albeit slowly, getting with the times in lessening the criminal status of a habit that most Americans are in favor of anyway.

The support for marijuana legalization is growing by the day. As of October 2018, 62 percent of Americans supported the full legalization of marijuana, with over 70 percent of millennials in favor.

With the passing of this bill, Texas can then join with the majority of Americans who support some form of marijuana legalization.

It is a habit that is becoming increasingly common among college students. According to a University of Michigan study, 38 percent of full-time college students, ages 19 to 22, have experimented with marijuana at least once in the previous year.

It’s safe to say that the younger generation of Americans are ignoring the now dated stigma against marijuana.

Medically, marijuana has proven benefits for use that are not recreational.

The use of marijuana medicinally may possibly reduce seizures, mental illness and addictions. Tetrahydrocannabinol, a chemical compound of marijuana, has been found to increase appetite and reduce nausea, pain and inflammation.

Unlike other recreational drugs, there is no evidence of marijuana overdoses and deaths reported.

HB 63 falls short in marijuana reform. The decriminalization of marijuana should also include prison reform and altering the current prison sentences for past offenders.

But the proposal is a modest first step in amending a law that only regresses society and its citizens. Maybe eventually, we can all lighten up in support of full marijuana legalization.

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Jacob Reyes; Editor-in-Chief Reese Oxner; associate news editor Amanda Padilla; Carmina Tiscareño, life and entertainment editor; social media editor Narda Pérez; Shay Cohen, copy editor and multimedia journalist; Zaria Turner, life and entertainment reporter; and sports reporter R.J. Coyle.


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