When it comes to pot, we're at a pretty interesting time in this country. As the consequences of the drug war become more and more apparent, some states have made fundamental changes in how they handle a substance that, according to researchers, is less harmful than alcohol.
Some states have moved somewhere along the decriminalization spectrum, from handling pot possession like a parking ticket to legalizing medical marijuana or home cannabis cultivation. And the numbers coming out of these states undercut much of the alarmist rhetoric against pot reform. For instance, the 13 states that have passed some kind of medical marijuana reform in the past decade have seen a subsequent 25 percent drop in prescription painkiller overdoses. In Colorado, the first state to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol, state revenue generated from taxing pot has been nearly double what the state recovered from taxing alcohol sales.
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But some states, like Texas, are just now starting to even talk about cannabis reform. The 2015 legislative session was perhaps the first time in recent memory where Texas lawmakers actually discussed this stuff. And while some pot-reform advocates worry the very minor gains the Lege did manage to pass this year are seriously flawed, the fact remains that a growing number of lawmakers in the Republican-dominated legislature have finally started to openly question whether Texas should continue to impose some of the harshest criminal penalties on pot in the country.
Meanwhile, polls continue to show that the majority of people in Houston and across the state favor decriminalizing marijuana or lowering criminal penalties for pot possession. That means, even as public and political opinion on pot has shifted, Texas cops can still, if they want to, threaten you with a first-degree felony, which carries a maximum 99 year prison sentence, if they catch you with a pound and a half of pot brownies. That apparently also means Texas cops might pull you over and stick their hands inside you, in public, on the side of the road, if they so much as think they smell weed.
Basically, there's a lot to cover about pot in Texas right now. We're looking for freelancers to help us cover everything from what reformers are doing at the political level, to what local law enforcement officials say about the drug war, to local stories, like Charneshia Corley's, that illustrate in troubling detail how seriously marijuana is still handled in Texas. (Oh, and the Top 10 Stoner Foods, too.)
So if you want to write about pot, please send a cover letter, résumé and a few examples of your work to firstname.lastname@example.org.