The History of Marijuana in Texas

Texas, the Lone Star State, may not be known for legalizing marijuana, but it does have a history with the drug that dates back over one hundred years ago. In 1915, fear for the drug was at a high, when a man killed a police officer after smoking marijuana. This led El Paso to become the first city in the United States to ban marijuana that same year, but physicians were very quick to respond, by speaking out in support of the drug, “It is stated by local physicians and druggists that marihuana has legitimate uses.” Even with the support of physicians though, the state’s overall stance on marijuana did not change and has still yet to see much change or progress.

In 1919, Texas restricted the purchase of narcotics, which included marijuana.  By 1923, the state prohibited the possession of narcotics, including marijuana, which the state eventually declared a “narcotic.” At that time, Texas became the only place in the United States where a marijuana conviction faced life in prison, which consequently increased the number of marijuana arrests in the state. Between 1970 and 1975, marijuana arrests in Texas went up 226%, but in 1973, the state made possession of four ounces or less a misdemeanor.     

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I've been covering cannabis for nearly five years, and by now I'm all too accustomed to the impersonal cannabis conference at a stuffy, generic hotel or expo hall, brimming with white guys in suits, and generally lacking in the spirit of well, cannabis. (The woes of legalization, I suppose.) So it was a breath of fresh air when I walked into what felt like a giant atrium in downtown LA for a new kind of cannabis conference. Located in what's called the Valentine Grass Room in an industrial area past the hustle and bustle of the DTLA skyscrapers, Microscopes & Machines (M&M) boasted a diverse array of speakers, from doctors and lawyers to chemists and cultivators on the frontlines of the cannabis industry.

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