LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) - Historically, Texas is a conservative state.
However, one conservative lawmaker says he believes marijuana should be legalized and that it would not compromise the state's values.
Rep. David Simpson said House Bill 2165 will increase individual liberties and decrease government control.
The bill would regulate marijuana as a plant, alongside tomatoes, coffee and other natural products.
It doesn't aim to regulate the plant through a bureaucracy or a registry, but to simply allow people to use it.
Currently, the federal government's Drug Enforcement Agency places marijuana in the same classification as LSD and heroin.
"God didn't make a mistake the government needs to fix when he made marijuana. The present approach to the abuse of drugs, abuse of marijuana, or anything, is not working. It has been very ineffectual. We're spending billions of dollars at the federal level and at the state level," Simpson told NBC-affiliate KETK.
Simpson says he believes marijuana has a variety of uses that would benefit residents.
"I'm hopeful that if this bill were to pass, we could see hemp cultivated and used as ropes. We can see the marijuana with differing levels of THC used medicinally. I think it's the right to do. It's the conservative thing to do," he said.
Alaska, Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use. In all, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the herb for medicinal use.
Simpson says he has heard from several constituents who say they need marijuana to help with their ailments, including epilepsy.
"Government shouldn't stand in the way of helping those people," he said.
While Simpson says he has received support from other representatives, not everyone is on board with the bill.
Republican Party Chairman for Gregg County, Tim Vaughn, issued a statement simply saying the vast majority of Republicans are not in favor of any marijuana legalization and that marijuana is not accepted on the state’s Republican platform.
"It's inevitable. It's just a part of the tide of change that we are seeing across the country on social issues from gay marriage to legalizing marijuana, to other things. Unfortunately, not everyone is going with the tide. They just keep fighting it, and that’s sad,” said James Cogar, the Democratic Chairman for Gregg County.
"Various studies have shown that even among heavy marijuana users, most of them do not go into other drugs," said Frank Supercinsky, an attorney.
From a legal standpoint, Supercinsky said cannabis is probably the least harmful drug and society stands to gain from the end of prohibition and criminalization of it.
“Rather than sending someone to prison for $30,000 or more a year, let them go out and be a productive member of society,” he said.
“We should allow people to be free and responsible as long as they don’t hurt their neighbor,” said Simpson.