A Texas proposal to legalize marijuana on religious grounds has cleared an unlikely hurdle.
State Rep. David Simpson, a Tea Party Republican from Longview, has argued that pot comes from God and so should not be banned by the government – and his bill gained surprising support after languishing for weeks in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.
Three Democrats on the committee and two Republicans voted Wednesday to approve House Bill 2165, which passed 5-2, reported the Associated Press.
Simpson’s bill is now eligible for consideration on the House floor before the legislative session ends June 1, although that probably won’t happen.
Texas law currently bans medical marijuana, so full legalization is highly unlikely, but pro-pot advocates said the committee vote was "unprecedented progress."
A 2013 poll shows 58 percent of Texas voters support legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it like alcohol.
Four states currently regulate and tax the drug similarly to alcohol.
Simpson said he interprets the biblical role of government is to punish or control citizens when they have harmed their neighbor – but he said marijuana use does not rise to that standard.
“All that God created is good, including marijuana,” the conservative lawmaker has said. “God did not make a mistake when he made marijuana that the government needs to fix.”
He wants to see the drug used to treat seizures and post-traumatic stress disorder and its fibers to produce hemp and other products.