EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Lawmakers across Texas are introducing new legislation they say will more than restore the economy.
KTSM Investigates has the special report asking: could legalizing cannabis save the economy?
“There’s a growing movement to do something different, to end the status quo when it comes to cannabis,” said State Rep. Joe Moody.
Moody’s two-pronged approach at legalizing cannabis in Texas aims to stimulate the economy, while also influencing criminal justice reform.
Moody’s office estimates that Texas is poised to make $1 billion in tax revenue from a cannabis retail market.
Currently, the cannabis industry provides 250,000 full-time jobs across the country — which is more than four times the total number of coal workers in the United States.
“A full market here in Texas, you’re talking probably a billion dollars in revenue per year, if estimates hold,” said Moody. “But that also doesn’t include the hundreds in millions in savings from not locking people up, for not prosecuting folks, and save money as well. So it’s not just about revenue. but also about cost-savings.”
In addition to bringing in much-needed revenue streams, cannabis legalization will also alleviate stress on law enforcement.
Texas has one of the highest rates in the country and remains staunchly conservative, despite efforts to move toward lucrative progressive policies.
“On top of that, there’s an untold amount of money that will kind of inject itself into the economy through interdependent businesses with the retail market, as well as you’re going to change some of the collateral consequences.”
A recent Gallup Poll shows that almost 70 percent of Americans support cannabis legalization and lawmakers are hoping Texas will soon enjoy the many benefits of cannabis legalization.
“For the first time ever, you have a majority of Texans that when asked, would like a retail market here in our state. and we have been really cautious,” Moody said. “We’ve been very slow in our approach but in the meantime, we’ve seen other states engage in this and know it’s no longer an experiment.”