Citing Biblical grounds, a Texas lawmaker is pushing for the legalization of marijuana within the state, arguing that everything God has created is good, and thus should not be criminalized or regulated by the government.
"I don't advocate the irresponsible use of anything, [but] all that God created is good, including marijuana. God did not make a mistake when he made marijuana that the government needs to fix," said Republican state rep. David Simpson, who wrote the 24-page proposal, aptly titled "An Act Relating to Repealing Marijuana Offenses."
"Let's allow the plant to be utilized for good--helping people with seizures, treating warriors with PTSD, producing fiber and other products--or simply for beauty and enjoyment. Government prohibition should be for violent actions that harm your neighbor--not of the possession, cultivation, and responsible use of plants," he said, according to the Houston Chronicle.
In 2014, Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Washington, D.C., legalized marijuana, but did so within a strict context of taxation and regulation. However, if the Legislature were to approve Simpson's bill, pot in Texas would be regulated like any other common plant and have no such restrictions.
Simpson explained, "Current marijuana policies are not based on science or sound evidence, but rather misinformation and fear."
He added, "The conservative approach-the liberty approach-is to recognize force and violence is not a good way to deal with drug abuse. Putting people in prison and teaching them a whole lot about crime, separating them from the family, taking away the breadwinners simply for possessing a plant that God made-that's wrong."
Gary Hale, a former intelligence chief in the Drug Intelligence Agency's Houston division and a drug policy scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston, said it is unlikely Simpson's bill will pass in its current form.
"A blanket decriminalization of marijuana and classification as a vegetable is not going to happen," he told the AFP. "Overall legalization will happen but in my opinion it will happen in incremental baby steps."
The Sheriff's Association of Texas also slammed Rep. Simpson's proposal, arguing that marijuana is a gateway drug and poses a danger, as users could operate a vehicle while under the influence.
"We'll oppose [Simpson's] bill and any bill that wishes to legalize marijuana in the State of Texas," said the department's spokesperson, AJ Lauderback.
However, Simpson's arguments have resonated with some, including 85-year-old Ann Lee, who founded the group Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition.
"I think it's a travesty the way that we have had marijuana illegal, and when I ask people why it's illegal, they can't really tell me," Lee said in an interview with KHOU. "We have to recognize that the marijuana laws is bad law, and we have to work to change it."
Simpson is not the only Christian to support marijuana decriminalization; in 2012, popular televangelist Pat Robertson famously said the drug should be legalized as current drug laws have not been effective.
"I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol," Robertson told the New York Times. "I've never used marijuana and I don't intend to, but it's just one of those things that I think: This war on drugs just hasn't succeeded."
A Pew Research poll conducted in February found that 63 percent of Republican millennials favor marijuana legalization, compared to 77 percent of same-aged Democrats. Additionally, a poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune found that 76 percent of Texans favored some form of legal marijuana, thirty-two percent approved of medical marijuana only, while 49 percent approved of legalizing marijuana for any use.