Texas, we've got a marijuana problem and no, it's not about usage, it's about how we handle arrests and incarcerations. In 2018, we were leading the nation with a whopping 70,000 marijuana possession arrests. Yes, you read that right! While the rest of the country is starting to come around on weed and arrest rates are dropping, we’re still hunting people down for the green stuff.​ (MPP)​.

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Maryland's Bold Move

So, what if we took a hint from Maryland? Recently, their governor pardoned over 100,000 people with marijuana charges​​. The Lone Star State doesn't even have a number of people charged for marijuana because the data is all over the place and most of it isn't even accounted for in a way that makes it possible to get an exact number of charges, yet we still know Texas has the highest marijuana arrest rate in the country. Can you imagine what a pardon like the Maryland one could do for Texas? It could potentially be a huge reset to our justice system that would ultimately help clear up LOTS of other local economic issues as well. Let’s break it down.

1. Save Big Bucks

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We’re spending millions on locking people up for weed. With a mass pardon, we could slash those costs dramatically. Less people in prison equals more money for stuff that actually matters, like schools and healthcare.

2. Free Up the Courts

Our justice system is clogged with minor marijuana cases. A mass pardon would clear out the courts, letting them focus on real crimes. This would make things move faster and save taxpayer money.

3. Righting Wrongs

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Marijuana laws have hit marginalized communities the hardest. A mass pardon could help fix some of these injustices, giving people a second chance to live their lives without a criminal record hanging over them.

4. Boost the Economy

States that are cool with weed are seeing job growth and tax revenue boosts. While we’re not there yet, pardoning past offenses could pave the way for future economic opportunities related to cannabis.

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5. Reflect What People Want

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Most Texans (and Americans) are over the anti-marijuana stance. By pardoning past offenses, Texas could show it’s in tune with what the public wants, which is a more relaxed approach to weed.

6. Set an Example

Maryland has shown us it’s possible. If Texas follows suit, we could set an example for other states to rethink their marijuana policies too.

But Why is It So Hard to Get the Numbers?

Finding the exact number of people incarcerated for marijuana in Texas is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Here’s why:

  • Limited Data: Public data on marijuana convictions is scarce. This makes it tough to get a clear picture of who’s actually in jail for weed.
  • Decriminalization Confusion: Possession of small amounts (under 2 ounces) was decriminalized in 2019, reducing arrests but making it harder to track.
  • Complex Records: People might be in jail for multiple offenses, not just marijuana, complicating the stats.

Given these hurdles, estimates suggest thousands could still be behind bars for marijuana-related offenses. A mass pardon would cut through this mess, freeing many from a broken system.

The Bottom Line

Pinpointing exact marijuana arrest numbers in Texas is tough. There's no single source, and reports from groups like Texas NORML might not capture everything. Even official crime data may not specify marijuana. This lack of clear data highlights why Texas needs marijuana reform. Clearer classification and regulation would make tracking marijuana offenses much easier, providing valuable information for policymakers.

Imagine thousands of people getting a second chance, our justice system running smoother, and saving tons of money. Let's turn over a new leaf and transform lives for the better here in The Lone Star State.

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