U.S Senate Race in Texas: Where Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke Stand on Marijuana Legalization

Candidates in the U.S. Senate race in Texas have different views on marijuana legalization.

We are now officially in the final sprint of the 2018 midterm campaigns. Among the most anticipated race on the November ballot is for the United States Senate in Texas, where Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) is challenging incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican.

For decades Texas has been one of the most reliable Republican states in the country. However, there is general agreement among pollsters and political observers that the race in Texas is extremely close, and Democrat O’Rourke is within striking distance of Republican Cruz.

The next U.S. Senator in Texas, where more than half of registered voters believe marijuana should be legalized, is likely to vote on legislation related to cannabis’ classification under federal law. In the 115th Congress, there are more cannabis reform bills than ever before. Experts believe Congress is waiting to take any significant action to overhaul federal cannabis laws until after the November midterms.

Cruz and O’Rourke hold dissimilar views on cannabis legalization. Here’s a look at where they each stand.

Ted Cruz (R)

  • Recreational Marijuana Legalization: Has said he wouldn’t personally vote for a state referendum to legalize adult use marijuana, but believes states should get to decide
  • Medical Marijuana Legalization: Supports states’ right for legalized medicinal cannabis

Cruz, the incumbent senator, believes in a federalist solution to marijuana, leaving it up to states to decide whether to legalize recreational or medical marijuana.

Personally, Cruz has long maintained that he personally opposes legalization, and he has not signed his name onto any cannabis reform legislation during his five-plus years in the Senate.

“I’ve always said that should be a question for the states. I think different states can resolve it differently,” Cruz said earlier this year. “So in Texas — if we were voting on it in Texas — I would vote against legalizing it. But I think it’s the prerogative of Texans to make that decision, and I think another state like Colorado can make a very different decision.”

“I don’t support drug legalization,” Cruz said. “I think drug legalization ends up harming people. I think it particularly hurts young people. It traps them in addiction.”

While the senator’s federalist perspective distinguishes him from hardline prohibitionists in Congress, it falls short of the Texas Republican Party, which recently endorsed marijuana decriminalization and the expansion of the state’s current limited medical cannabis law.

Cruz has received a C grade from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) on the organization’s congressional scorecard. The organization has acknowledged his hands-off position on state marijuana legalization efforts.

Beto O’Rourke (D)

  • Recreational Marijuana Legalization: Supports ending federal prohibition
  • Medical Marijuana Legalization: Has acknowledged therapeutic potential of cannabis and supports legalization of medical marijuana

O’Rourke has said he wants to end federal prohibition of cannabis while establishing a regulated system designed to deter youth consumption and combat illegal criminal markets. He has also said he supports expunging the criminal records of those who have been previously convicted of non-violent marijuana crimes.

“We must end the federal prohibition on marijuana in this country,” O’Rourke has said. “Texas should be leading the way by encouraging comprehensive reforms in drug control policies that have had a devastating effect on communities of color.”

During his time in the House, O’Rourke has supported multiple pieces of marijuana-related legislation, including bills to expand cannabis research (CARERS Act, 2015), prevent the federal government from interfering with legal state markets (McClintock/Polis Amendment, 2015 & Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, 2015), and increase cannabis access to veterans (Veterans Equal Access Amendment, 2015 & 2016).

O’Rourke and his Senate run have been endorsed by NORML’s political action committee. He was given a B+ grade on the organization’s congressional scorecard.

“Beto has been a true champion for abolishing our disastrous prohibition on marijuana since the very beginning of his political career as a city council member in El Paso. We were pleased to support him in his previous campaign for the House of Representatives and excited to endorse him again in his race for the US Senate,” said NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri.

More U.S. Election News

Learn more about where candidates running for election stand on marijuana, as well as where marijuana will be on the ballot in 2018, by visiting our Election 2018 page.

Stay up on the latest cannabis industry news through the Medical Marijuana, Inc. news page.