AUSTIN, Texas — A House committee in Texas has approved a bill proposed by a professing Christian who seeks to legalize the recreational use of marijuana statewide.
Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, proposed HB 2165 earlier this year to do away with criminal penalties for the use of pot in Texas, striking any language in the current law that cites marijuana next to controlled substances.
In an op-ed published last month entitled “The Christian Case for Drug Law Reform”, Simpson said that his faith and his criticism of the government “war on drugs” led him to propose the bill.
“As a Christian, I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same,” wrote Simpson. “I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.”
“Scripture stresses respect for our neighbor’s liberty and conscience, moderation for all an abstinence for some,” he continued. “Civil government should value everything that God made and leave people alone unless their meddle with their neighbor.”
While Simpson’s bill has sat in committee for several months, this past Wednesday it was approved 5-2 by the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, with three Democrats and two Republicans voting in favor: Committee Chairman Abel Herrero (D-Robstown), Joe Moody (D-El Paso), Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) and Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) joined Simpson in a yea vote. Republicans Matt Shaheen and Jeff Leach, both of Plano, voted no.
While the vote allows the measure to move to the full House for consideration, its future is uncertain. Still, pro-marijuana groups in the state applauded the approval as a significant accomplishment.
“Marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered in the Lone Star State,” Texas Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project Heather Fazio said in a statement. “Texas voters recognize that punishing adults for consuming a substance that is safer than alcohol is a waste of law enforcement resources and an affront to individual liberty. It appears most of the committee members agree.”
According to a 2013 Public Policy poll and local television station KSAT, 58 percent of Texas voters support the legalization of marijuana in the state and regulating it like alcohol. Marijuana use is currently legal in Colorado, Washington State, Oregon and Alaska.
While there is a debate among Americans about whether marijuana should be legalized, many Christians nationwide remain opposed to the smoking of the plant as the substance interferes with the Biblical command to be “sober-minded.”
“Sorcery/witchcraft is from the Greek word ‘pharmakia’ the same word we get pharmacy from. It means the general illicit use of drugs (same application as today) and the use of drugs to cast spells,” writes Steve Rudd in “Drugs and the Bible: E, Shrooms, Cocaine, Crack, Marijuana.” “Psychologically, drugs can cause us to lose all sense of control. We switch our entire dependence and reason for living to the chemical.”
“The Bible teaches in I Corinthians 6:19-20 that God has given us our bodies; our bodies belong to Him,” he continues. “We are also told in Romans 12:1 that we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God. Can we do this and be drug dependent?