Marijuana Criminalization in Texas – At a Glance
by Carlos Caro, Secretary
Marijuana criminalization in Texas stretches back to El Paso in 1915 with a city ordinance outlawing its use. Ever since then marijuana criminalization has spread in the State of Texas. This, in part, has helped fuel the state in having the largest prison population in the country. It costs the state and taxpayers roughly three billion dollars per year on prisons, and a cost of approximately ten thousand dollars per marijuana arrest.
According to 2015 DPS Arrest statistics, 61,748 individuals were arrested for marijuana possession. Of those 26,756 were between the ages of 17-24. 43% of those arrested for marijuana possession were in their late teens and early twenties, an age of most high school and college students.
If you take a look at the attached data from the McAllen Police Department, their arrest statistics somewhat mirror DPS arrest data for the state when it comes to the age range of those affected by marijuana criminalization, namely those between the ages of 15-24. What we notice from DPS and McAllen PD data is that high school and college aged youth are being heavily affected by criminalization, which has disastrous effects in the long-term with regards to education and employment opportunities. We also notice from DPS data that marijuana possession arrests account for roughly 52% of all arrests for drug possession, also considering the age demographic that this impacts the most.
Saddling young people with a Class B criminal misdemeanor is detrimental to their future and to a productive, taxpaying, Texas workforce. As a Texan it is frustrating to think that taxpayer money, is being fruitlessly spent in the maintenance of marijuana’s criminalization, but as an educator it is heartbreaking to think of the continued prospect of our youth being shut out from meaningful participation in our Texas workforce by being penalized with a criminal record.
Financial Costs – Chris Mai and Ram Subramanian, “The Price of Prisons: Examining State Spending Trends 2010-2015”, Vera Insitute of Justice
Financial Costs – Alexander DeLuca M.D., “Crimes of Indescretion: Marijuana Arrests in the United States Executive Summary”