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Activists: "Texas Getting Closer To Legalizing Marijuana"

(credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Some optimistic activists say new FBI crime statistics will push Texas closer to legalizing marijuana.

According to Mason Tvert, with the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), investigators are wasting millions of dollars going after casual users. "There is no logical reason why law enforcement officials should be spending their time arresting and prosecuting adults simply for possessing a product that is objectively less harmful than alcohol," he said.

Tvert also pointed to new crime statistics that show African Americans, while only making up about 12-percent of the state's population, are arrested far more than Whites for marijuana possession.

"It is the 15th highest arrest rate and right now Black Americans are being arrested at more than twice the rate as White," he said, adding, "Communities of color are really facing the most enforcement despite the fact that they use marijuana at the same rate as whites."

According to the MPP, marijuana prohibition costs U.S. taxpayers $41.8 billion per year. Tvert said that shows law enforcement isn't prioritizing when it comes to crime fighting. "We are spending our law enforcement resources arresting adults for marijuana, when we could be using those resources to address serious crime," he said.

Tvert said the statistics on things like the use of tax dollars and disproportionate arrests by race show how wrong the current marijuana policy is and also demonstrates why Texas should legalize pot.

Later this week DFW NORML, an educational organization dedicated to legalizing marijuana in Texas, will hold their regional conference. Organizers say one of the goals of the Texas Regional NORML Conference is to "give Texans an honest, entertaining and interactive cannabis education."

The Texas Regional NORML Conference will be held June 7 – 9, in Fort Worth.

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