Thank you Chairwoman and Committee Members. My name is Jax Finkel and I am representing myself and the Texas Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which focuses on marijuana law reform, and Foundation for an Informed Texas, which focuses on cannabis centric education. Thank you for hosting this hearing on the important issue of marijuana policy.
My gratitude goes out to the authors, Speaker Pro Tem Moody, Representatives Toth, Thompson, Zweiner, Canales, Wu, and Crockett. All of the bills before you are bills which do varying amounts of good and I support them all. We delivered binders to each of your offices with a comparison of the eight bills, recommendations, resources, and some personal stories. Several authors have asked for me to offer testimony on their bills and I will do so with brevity.
In 2019, over 45,000 Texans were arrested for minor possession1 with an estimated 30k being convicted. This is while 92% of burglaries, 89% of car thefts, and 77% of rape and attempted rape went unsolved in the same year.2 Let’s make sure that law enforcement can spend more time and effort on policing violent crimes and property crimes; and at the same time, save at least $311M in taxpayer dollars spent annually on enforcing low level marijuana possession laws.3
In Texans, Black people are 2.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people. The definition of white includes latinos. Arrests of Latinx individuals coded as white in the data likely artificially inflate the number of white arrests, leading to an underestimate of the disparity between Black and white arrest rates.4
Many urban areas have enacted deprioritization, first chance, and cite and summons programs to help mitigate the extreme cost of prosecuting for minor marijuana possession. This data highlights the disparity in enforcement.
Regarding Law Enforcements Common Concerns:
I encourage you to take a look at the recent educational exhibits on penalty reduction and a regulated cannabis market and the accompanying sources. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have.
“The Economic Benefits of Regulating and Taxing Cannabis in Texas: An analysis of potential new revenue, job growth, and savings.” Vicente Sederberg, LLP. October 2020
 “Dallas Cops Are Still Citing-and-Releasing Mostly Black and Brown People for Pot” Dallas Observer, April 2018
Austin City Council’s Judicial Committee Meeting as reported by APD Assistant Chief Gay, September 13, 2019
National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine https://www.nap.edu/read/4421/chapter/5#401
 Not in my backyard? Not so fast. The effect of marijuana legalization on neighborhood crime, Regional Science and Urban Economics, 2019
 The Economic Benefits of Regulating and Taxing Cannabis in Texas, An analysis of potential new revenue, job growth, and savings. Vicente Sederberg LLP, Special Report, October 2020
DEA Drug Fact Sheet (2020) https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Marijuana-Cannabis-2020.pdf