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Legalizing marijuana is a hot issue in the race for Texas agriculture commissioner

The Republican incumbent wants to expand medical marijuana while his opponent thinks weed should also be legal for recreational use.

HOUSTON — One of the hottest issues in the race for Texas agriculture commissioner is access to marijuana. One candidate wants to legalize it for recreational use but the other says not so fast.

Republican incumbent Sid Miller agrees that the state's medical marijuana laws should be expanded but stops there. Democratic challenger Susan Hays thinks all Texans should have access to cannabis. 

"Myself, I really like consuming cannabis to get a good night’s sleep. It’s great for insomnia," Hays said. “In Texas, there’s this lack of willingness to engage in facts, science or policy.”

RELATED: CBD, hemp, delta-8, medical marijuana: Here’s what you need to know about Texas’ pot laws

Hays says Texas needs to decriminalize and legalize.

“What happens if you decriminalize, but you don’t regulate? The black market comes rushing in even more," Hays said.

According to a recent poll by UT Tyler and The Dallas Morning News, many Texans agree with Hays. 55% want legal recreational use and 72% support medical marijuana.

And legalizing cannabis might come with some income. Colorado has made $2.2 billion in tax revenue since 2014 from legalizing marijuana - something Miller says he’s looked into.

“What they tell me is does generate a lot of revenue. A lot of revenue, but it’s pretty much a wash. It takes all that revenue to oversee and police the programming," Miller said.

Medical marijuana is already legal in Texas, but only for certain conditions. The Compassionate Use Program applies to the following: 

“We’ve had medical marijuana since 2011. The problem that I have with it is we pick winners and losers," Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said. "Some diseases can be treated. Some can't."

He thinks the decision should be left up to doctors. 

RELATED: Texas agriculture commissioner pens editorial supporting the expansion of medical marijuana

“We just need to get the bureaucrats and elected officials out of making medical decisions and let the doctors make those decisions for the patients.”

To learn more about these candidates, visit their websites: https://millerfortexas.com/ & https://www.hays4ag.com/.

Texas marijuana laws: What's legal and what's not

CBD. THC. Hemp. Marijuana.

If you’re not a cannabis enthusiast, you may not know the difference. But in Texas, each has its own definition and law.

Both CBD and THC are found in the cannabis plant. CBD is legal, while THC is regulated.  

Hemp is legal, but marijuana is not. The difference between the two is a federal definition. Hemp has a THC concentration of less than 0.3%. Anything over that is considered marijuana – and that’s illegal for recreational use in the Lone Star State. 

Medical marijuana laws in Texas

Under the Compassionate Use Program or CUP, patients can get Low-THC cannabis if the patient has one of the required medical conditions and a registered physician prescribes it. Patients under 18 may need a legal guardian.  

Low-THC contains no more than 0.5 % and medical use is limited to swallowing -- not smoking -- the prescribed dose of low-THC.  

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