CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The legalization and decriminalization of marijuana has been a topic that’s gone up in smoke time and time again in Texas.
Many marijuana advocates like Jennifer Anderson, the owner of Your Happy Place on S. Padre Island in Corpus Christi, just want it legalized nationwide.
However, there was a time when Jennifer Anderson hadn’t even smoked marijuana. Eight years ago her doctor prescribed her medical marijuana, changing her view on the illegal substance.
Many years before that, Anderson did something she now regrets.
“I kicked my son out of the house at 15 years old for smoking. It’s the truth. It was hard. I didn’t know. I was told it was bad,” Anderson said.
Since then, Anderson has rekindled her relationship with her son. Now, her shop’s revenue is in jeopardy because the Texas Department of State Health Services has deemed Delta8 THC a schedule one controlled substance.
Delta 8 is sold in many of Anderson’s products. She said while this will decrease her revenue, her CBD sales will help her retain her customers. Anderson said she is hoping lawmakers will give her time to sell all her products with Delta 8 THC.
“Fifty percent of our customers need that THC in order to activate that CBD and that’s what helps take them out of pain. It helps them with PTSD, it helps them stop seizures,” Anderson said.
One of those customers that suffered from seizures was Brianna Villarreal. She was in a coma for three years and used Delta 8 THC products to help her lead a normal life. Villarreal said she no longer has seizures as a result of using the products from Anderson’s shop.
“I feel like if they do take it, she can’t have it anymore, I’m just going to have seizures? Like nothing can help me? So that’s really bad,” Villarreal said.
Anderson said Delta 8 THC derives from hemp. Edward Boulton is an employee at Your Happy Place and is an advocate for Delta 8 THC as well as legalization nationwide. His passion for legalizing marijuana came after he got arrested for a marijuana related charge.
“It’s just kind of sad that this kind of thing is happening to people everyday. And if we were able to squash that how much that could actually help like the community, it could help not fill up jails,” Boulton said.
Kyle Hoelscher, a criminal defense lawyer and marijuana policy expert in Corpus Christi, said he can see Texas legalizing marijuana before the federal government because the federal government has other issues that they tackle. But he said that doesn’t mean Texas is anywhere near legalizing marijuana. He said it’s an issue Texas legislators don’t pay much attention to because they have already given a limited amount of people the right to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
However, he is still hoping marijuana will be legalized nationwide.
“Decriminalizing means that we reduce the penalties of marijuana possession…..legalization is when you remove criminal penalties from marijuana possession,” Hoelscher said.
Groups like Hometown Heroes, a veteran marijuana advocacy group is currently fighting the Delta 8 THC law.