Baker Institute experts: Texas has opportunity to improve marijuana policy


David Ruth

Jeff Falk

Baker Institute experts: Texas has opportunity to improve marijuana policy    

HOUSTON – (March 13, 2017) – With the Texas Legislature considering several bills that would decrease penalties for marijuana possession and legalize the use of medical marijuana to treat a variety of conditions, the state has the opportunity to improve drug policy, according to experts at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Credit: University

William Martin, director of the Baker Institute’s Drug Policy Program, and Katharine Neill, the Alfred C. Glassell III Postdoctoral Fellow in Drug Policy at the institute, have published an updated issue brief, “Marijuana Reform: Fears and Facts,” which adds to a 2015 brief on the effects of various marijuana reform options. They highlight research that overwhelmingly supports the assertion that ending marijuana prohibition benefits society in numerous and significant ways that outweigh potential negative impacts.

Martin, who is testifying at the Capitol in Austin today regarding marijuana legislation (House Bill 81), and Neill are available to comment on proposed legislation and its impacts.

“Most marijuana use is experimental or occasional and does not develop into monthly use, much less problematic use, suggesting that legalization would not result in a drastic rise of ‘potheads,’” Martin and Neill wrote. “But even if the number of marijuana users, including problem users, were to increase, the social costs of this increase would be far less than the price society now pays for arresting and incarcerating them.”


For more information or to schedule an interview with Martin or Neill, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6775.

Related materials:

Issue brief:

Martin bio:

Neill bio:

Follow the Baker Institute via Twitter @BakerInstitute.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top five university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog,

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.