Beto O'Rourke says the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature would back his plan to legalize weed

"I'll let you in on a secret: Republicans like to get high just as much as Democrats," the former El Paso congressman said.

click to enlarge Texas gubernatorial candiate Beto O'Rourke speaks at a campaign event in San Antonio earlier this year. - MICHAEL KARLIS
Michael Karlis
Texas gubernatorial candiate Beto O'Rourke speaks at a campaign event in San Antonio earlier this year.
During a weekend appearance in Austin, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Beto O'Rourke repeated his promise to legalize cannabis in Texas, adding that he expects the Republican-led state legislature to go along.

"I'll let you in on a secret: Republicans like to get high just as much as Democrats," the former El Paso congressman said at a South by Southwest panel, the Austin-American Statesman reports.

While that may work as an applause line, it may undersell the difficulty of winning over the legislature's most conservative members. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, for example, has repeatedly threatened to block marijuana reform and sets the agenda for the Texas Senate.

While Texas lawmakers did approve an expansion of the state's medical marijuana program during the previous session, the rules remain among the most restrictive in the nation. Earlier this year, advocacy group Americans for Safe Access slapped a failing grade on Texas' program, saying it was neither accessible nor practical.

Even so, O'Rourke suggested Texas may not be immune to the sweeping tide of cannabis legalization, according to the Statesman.

"[It is] a substance that is legal in most of the rest of the country, most of the rest of the free world," he said.

During the talk, O'Rourke also blasted Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for his controversial order for the state's child-welfare agency to investigate parents who obtain gender-affirming care for their transgender teens. The Democrat called the two-term governor a "thug" and an "authoritarian," the paper reported.

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