Archive for the ‘texas’ category

MPP to Introduce Three New Marijuana Reform Bills in Texas

October 22nd, 2014

As part of the Marijuana Policy Project’s multi-year legislative campaign in Texas, we are developing bill proposals to address decriminalization, as well as allowing marijuana to be used for medical reasons and eventually regulating it similarly to alcohol for adults.

Heather Fazio

According to Heather Fazio, Texas Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, the group will be pre-filing the three bills this November, in anticipation of the 84th Texas Legislative Session, starting in January.

“We are working with a diverse coalition to introduce a civil penalty bill which [would] make small possession punishable by a simple fine, rather than a criminal charge,” said Fazio.

“This means no opportunity for jail time, and none of the collateral sanctions which come along with a criminal drug arrest. These collateral sanctions include limited access to resources for education, housing, employment, etc. It will also help to break down the stigma which goes along with being arrested and jailed for the possession of this plant.”

“We will [also] be introducing a bill to create a legal market for marijuana, similar to alcohol, for responsible adults who are 21 and over,” says Fazio.

The three bills cite Texans’ support for reduced marijuana penalties, the passage of medical marijuana laws, and taxing and regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol.

Moreover, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and RAND Corporation data, 1,267,200 Texans already use marijuana each month, with the average user consuming 100 grams per year. Should Texas regulate and tax marijuana, with a tax of $50 per ounce implemented, the Lone Star State would stand to make between $150,971,063 and $264,199,294 in tax revenue annually.

Read the full Houston Press article for more information on the proposed marijuana policy changes in Texas, as well as an overview of the three bills.

NORML PAC Endorses Representative Beto O’Rourke for US Congress

October 9th, 2014

betomemeNORML PAC is endorsing Representative Beto O’Rourke (TX-16) for re-election the the US House of Representatives.

“Rep. O’Rourke is an ardent supporter of reforming our nation’s marijuana policies,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “In just his first term, he has proven to be an intelligent and pragmatic politician with a long future in front of him. We strongly encourage voters to support his re-election campaign to keep a true reform champion in Congress.”

Representative O’Rourke issued the following statement to supporters and voters on the topic:

“Those of us who live in this region, in El Paso and Juarez, have a unique perspective on the war on drugs. We know that billions of dollars in cash, drugs, guns and arms are transited through this community. We know that billions of dollars in federal resources from the United States and Mexico are spent on law enforcement to try and stop that illicit drug trade. And we also know, all too well, the suffering that accompanies that black market trade in illegal drugs. It is because of that experience and looking back over the 40-year, failed war on drugs that I’ve come to the conclusion that at least when it comes to a drug like marijuana, we owe ourselves, and especially our kids, a much better policy.

As a rational and humane country, we can decide, as we did with alcohol that the harms in the prohibition of marijuana far outweigh any gains in security and in our efforts to keep these drugs away from our fellow citizens.

If you support my work and advocacy on this issue, I hope I can count on your help.”

For the next 24 hours, Rep. O’Rourke will be running a “Powered by People” campaign with the goal of raising $123,200 in amounts less than $200 to illustrate that everyday citizens can compete with special interests in politics and issues such as marijuana law reform drive voter engagement. If you are interested in donating to this campaign you can do so by clicking here (donations are tracked so donations made through this link will show as support for his marijuana reform stance).

Austin City Council Considering Medical Marijuana Resolution

June 26th, 2014

Two Austin City Council members are in support of a resolution that would make medical marijuana legal in Texas, KVUE reports. There is growing support for medical marijuana in Texas, especially among parents of children with mental disabilities and people with debilitating diseases. Thalia Michelle is the Executive Director of Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MOMMA). She believes that medical marijuana would beneficial to her son and other children with autism. “It could help with his hyperactivity, cognition, focus, and even speech,” she said. “This isn’t just about smoking for nausea and pain anymore.” Her organization believes that using cannabis oil to treat autism would help sufferers to deal with the disorder.

The policy has been proposed to treat a host of maladies, from nausea and epilepsy to the treatment of muscular dystrophy. This measure, if approved, would not make medical marijuana legal in Texas or the City of Austin, but would signal growing support for such compassionate and sensible policies in the state.

Texas GOP Adds Hemp Cultivation to Platform, Votes Against Support for Medical Marijuana

June 16th, 2014

Guest Post by Jason Miller, Houston NORML

From left to right: Dr. Teryn Driver, Zoe Russell, Jason Miller Photo credit: Nick Zalud

From left to right: Dr. Teryn Driver, Zoe Russell, Jason Miller
Photo credit: Nicholas Zalud

The 2014 Texas GOP Convention wrapped up Saturday, June 7th, after a long week of debate and testimony concerning medical marijuana. Supporters of marijuana reform, including several members of RAMP (Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition) along with other medical marijuana advocates, including parents, veterans, and medical doctors, gave testimony in favor of an amendment to the platform in support of allowing Texans access to medical cannabis.

It seemed like a short-lived victory when the Temporary Platform Committee passed the amendment after listening to emotional testimony from those whose loved ones could benefit or have benefited from medical cannabis. The Chairman of the committee broke the tie and the amendment passed by a 15-14 vote. In addition, a plank supporting Hemp Cultivation passed the committee and made it into the final platform.

The following day, the Permanent Platform Committee met and voted on the medical marijuana amendment. This was the day I arrived at the convention after driving up to Fort Worth from Houston. My second time attending the Texas GOP Convention as a delegate, I was excited to hear about what was happening in the committees and was eager to help.

Rewind to August 2013 when I first met Ann Lee. After being involved with NORML for the past 4 years as a corporate sponsor to the legal seminars in Aspen and Key West, I had heard of Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University, but I didn’t know the full extent of his story until hearing it from his mother. Ann Lee was visiting a group in Houston that several of my friends help organize called Liberty on the Rocks. Along with a representative from Houston NORML, originally co-founded by Richard Lee, Ann Lee spoke to us and her words resonated.

She told us about growing up in Louisiana during segregation (Ann Lee is in her mid-eighties, she’s even older than marijuana prohibition itself), and she spoke of how unfairly people were treated and how unfairly minorities are treated today due to the enforcement of marijuana prohibition. She told us about her 5 sons, including educator and entrepreneur Richard Lee, who was injured in a workplace accident, leaving him in a wheelchair as a paraplegic. She told us about being a Republican activist since the 1970s and how she co-founded the group “Women for Reagan” in 1983, the year I was born. She told us about her husband, Bob Lee, and how they had initially reacted when Richard told them he uses medical marijuana to help with his muscle spasticity and neuropathic pain.

Ann Lee testifying before the platform committee Photo credit: Zoe Russell

Ann Lee with Liberty on the Rocks Houston, August 2013

Photo credit: Sang Le

Ann and Bob Lee founded RAMP in 2012. After much reflection, they had reached the conclusion that prohibition of marijuana is directly opposed to all of their Republican values. I was immediately intrigued upon learning about this. My interest in both party politics and marijuana policy were now being fused together by this idea. I immediately approached Ann and started asking her about RAMP. She handed me a little brochure with the Republican logo with three pot leaves instead of stars. My first thought was “OK, this organization really needs a new logo.”

Fast-forward to 2014, new logo, website, social media, and a network of young people helping Ann Lee with RAMP. We’re ready to make an impact. We’ve formed a team, including John Baucum, President of Houston Young Republicans. We’d worked a great deal on networking and outreach, held our inaugural meeting, and conducted several interviews with news media. We knew a lot of people in Houston’s conservative scene and we knew many of them would be serving as GOP delegates.

Upon my arrival to the Texas GOP Convention in Fort Worth on Thursday, I knew that I had a mission. The vote on the medical marijuana amendment was to take place later this day and the outcome was going to depend heavily upon how the Permanent Platform Committee was to shape up. Our strategy was to try to push anyone off the committee who voted against us and replace them with someone who is supportive.

In my Senate District, our platform committee representative had voted against medical marijuana. So I started talking to people. I thought about who would make a good candidate and one person came to mind, a Military Veteran, an author, and a frequent lecturer on conservative issues. Although medical marijuana was not the primary issue, I knew this person would be supportive. At this point there’s a lot of whispering going on in the hallways, people pulling each other aside and talking under their breath. I knew that a good number of people would unite behind this candidate, and I was able to feel confident in my ability to “whip the votes.”

Time was of the essence. I ran across the street to the Omni Hotel and printed up flyers, highlighting the candidate’s qualifications. After some trouble with the printer, I made it back to the convention just in time. I walked into our SD Caucus and handed everyone the flyers. There were two other candidates in the race for platform committee. Although my preferred candidate did not win, we pulled about 30% of the vote and made an impact on the outcome of the race.

Immediately after the SD Caucus, the Permanent Platform Committee met and the moment of truth was upon us. There was a great deal of commotion outside the meeting room because it wasn’t big enough to seat everyone. People were outside the door yelling for them to relocate the meeting to a larger space. Some of the committee members had changed due the immigration plank of the platform, which was the most contentious issue up for debate. I tried to peer into the room to see who was on the committee. I was curious to find out any of our people were elected to the committee in other senate districts, but I assumed they didn’t have any better luck than I did.

Ann Lee testifying before the platform committee Photo credit: Zoe Russell

Ann Lee testifying before the platform committee
Photo credit: Zoe Russell

The medical cannabis amendment failed. Some of the committee members, who supported the amendment the day before ended up changing their vote. This may have been due to our opposition whipping the votes against us. However, an additional amendment supporting “research into the medical efficacy of cannabis” was introduced by a member of the committee and passed. Unfortunately, our opposition filed a ‘minority report’ signed by 9 members of the committee in support of striking this language from the platform.

Perhaps the most amazing revelation was that another ‘minority report’ was filed, signed by 8 members of the committee, in support of adding the original medical cannabis amendment back into the platform. This was huge. A clear message was sent that support for medical cannabis is alive and well in the Texas GOP. We considered this to be a major victory because the issue would be up for debate during the general session on Saturday when the platform is adopted by the entire delegation.

On Friday morning, we arrived at the Fort Worth Convention Center at 6:00am, with 2000 RAMP newsletters in hand. Volunteers, including founders of the group MAMMA (Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism) Thalia Michelle and Amy Lou Falwell, helped line seats with our literature. This day, we decided to forget about the platform and the stress, it’s time to network, educate people about medical cannabis, conduct interviews with media, and talk to as many elected officials as we can.

Founders of MAMMA - Amy Lou Falwell and Thalia Michelle conducting a radio interview in the exhibitor area of the convention. Photo credit: Jason Miller

Founders of MAMMA – Amy Lou Falwell and Thalia Michelle conducting a radio interview in the exhibitor area of the convention.
Photo credit: Jason Miller

On Saturday morning, several of us arrived early to get spots near each of the four microphones in the general convention arena. We wanted to make sure we were able to testify in support of medical cannabis. As the platform adoption process started, medical cannabis was the first topic up for debate. Our minority report in support of adding the amendment back in to the platform was introduced from the stage.

Ann Lee spoke in favor of this amendment and told her story. She told the delegation about her son Richard and his injury. She used her entire 5 minutes of testimony and made a very clear point that garnered a great deal of applause, “Why should the federal government be able to prevent us from using a natural medicine that is clearly beneficial to sick people?”

One person spoke in opposition to the amendment and tried to convince the delegation that Marinol and medical marijuana are the same thing, which is clearly false.

Dr. Teryn Driver, a delegate from League City, made an emotional argument about children suffering from epilepsy and passionately educated the delegation about Cannibidiol (CBD).

A motion was made to end debate and the crowd voted in favor of it. (The delegation will typically always vote in favor of anything that moves the process along faster). We then voted on adding the medical marijuana amendment back into the platform and it failed. We expected this to happen.

The next item of business is the ‘minority report’ striking the support for research into the medical efficacy of cannabis from the platform. Zoe Russell, the assistant executive director for RAMP, spoke in opposition to striking this language; she testified that Texas prides itself on medical innovation and that getting our federal government out of the way of promising research will be a tremendous benefit to our medical community. She pointed out that Republicans don’t like federal interference in our healthcare choices and that should include the ability to conduct medical research. Her remarks were met with cheers and applause.

Immediately following Zoe’s testimony, debate was cut off. A vote was taken, but it wasn’t clear. After a bit of demagoguery by the Chairman and a clarification that a no vote would leave the language in the platform, the vote was taken again. It was very close, but the yes votes won and the language supporting research of medical cannabis was stricken from the platform.

Ann Lee speaking in favor of medical marijuana  Photo credit: Zoe Russell

Ann Lee speaking in favor of medical marijuana
Photo credit: Zoe Russell

Our opposition’s only real strategy was to cut off testimony as quickly as possible. They don’t want the delegation to hear our message. They don’t want any discussion about changing these laws. But we’re having the discussion. We’re winning over the hearts of minds of people, and we had been doing it all week. After the convention ended, I made my way down the road about 4 blocks to the Texas Regional NORML Conference. Exhausted, I dragged myself into the conference and took a seat.

Overall, the Texas GOP Convention was a huge success. We’re furthering the discussion about marijuana reform among Republicans and we’re having fun in the process. My time spent in Fort Worth was well worth it. I learned a lot about politics and procedure, activism and how to communicate and network with people. We met supporters from all over the state and we expanded our network. We’re now gearing up for the 2015 legislative session and we’re determined to legalize marijuana in the great state of Texas.

It ain’t gonna legalize itself.

Stay up to date on NORML Houston’s activities by following them on Facebook here.

Texas GOP Adds Hemp Cultivation to Platform, Votes Against Support for Medical Marijuana

June 16th, 2014

Guest Post by Jason Miller, Houston NORML

From left to right: Dr. Teryn Driver, Zoe Russell, Jason Miller Photo credit: Nick Zalud

From left to right: Dr. Teryn Driver, Zoe Russell, Jason Miller
Photo credit: Nicholas Zalud

The 2014 Texas GOP Convention wrapped up Saturday, June 7th, after a long week of debate and testimony concerning medical marijuana. Supporters of marijuana reform, including several members of RAMP (Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition) along with other medical marijuana advocates, including parents, veterans, and medical doctors, gave testimony in favor of an amendment to the platform in support of allowing Texans access to medical cannabis.

It seemed like a short-lived victory when the Temporary Platform Committee passed the amendment after listening to emotional testimony from those whose loved ones could benefit or have benefited from medical cannabis. The Chairman of the committee broke the tie and the amendment passed by a 15-14 vote. In addition, a plank supporting Hemp Cultivation passed the committee and made it into the final platform.

The following day, the Permanent Platform Committee met and voted on the medical marijuana amendment. This was the day I arrived at the convention after driving up to Fort Worth from Houston. My second time attending the Texas GOP Convention as a delegate, I was excited to hear about what was happening in the committees and was eager to help.

Rewind to August 2013 when I first met Ann Lee. After being involved with NORML for the past 4 years as a corporate sponsor to the legal seminars in Aspen and Key West, I had heard of Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University, but I didn’t know the full extent of his story until hearing it from his mother. Ann Lee was visiting a group in Houston that several of my friends help organize called Liberty on the Rocks. Along with a representative from Houston NORML, originally co-founded by Richard Lee, Ann Lee spoke to us and her words resonated.

She told us about growing up in Louisiana during segregation (Ann Lee is in her mid-eighties, she’s even older than marijuana prohibition itself), and she spoke of how unfairly people were treated and how unfairly minorities are treated today due to the enforcement of marijuana prohibition. She told us about her 5 sons, including educator and entrepreneur Richard Lee, who was injured in a workplace accident, leaving him in a wheelchair as a paraplegic. She told us about being a Republican activist since the 1970s and how she co-founded the group “Women for Reagan” in 1983, the year I was born. She told us about her husband, Bob Lee, and how they had initially reacted when Richard told them he uses medical marijuana to help with his muscle spasticity and neuropathic pain.

Ann Lee testifying before the platform committee Photo credit: Zoe Russell

Ann Lee with Liberty on the Rocks Houston, August 2013

Photo credit: Sang Le

Ann and Bob Lee founded RAMP in 2012. After much reflection, they had reached the conclusion that prohibition of marijuana is directly opposed to all of their Republican values. I was immediately intrigued upon learning about this. My interest in both party politics and marijuana policy were now being fused together by this idea. I immediately approached Ann and started asking her about RAMP. She handed me a little brochure with the Republican logo with three pot leaves instead of stars. My first thought was “OK, this organization really needs a new logo.”

Fast-forward to 2014, new logo, website, social media, and a network of young people helping Ann Lee with RAMP. We’re ready to make an impact. We’ve formed a team, including John Baucum, President of Houston Young Republicans. We’d worked a great deal on networking and outreach, held our inaugural meeting, and conducted several interviews with news media. We knew a lot of people in Houston’s conservative scene and we knew many of them would be serving as GOP delegates.

Upon my arrival to the Texas GOP Convention in Fort Worth on Thursday, I knew that I had a mission. The vote on the medical marijuana amendment was to take place later this day and the outcome was going to depend heavily upon how the Permanent Platform Committee was to shape up. Our strategy was to try to push anyone off the committee who voted against us and replace them with someone who is supportive.

In my Senate District, our platform committee representative had voted against medical marijuana. So I started talking to people. I thought about who would make a good candidate and one person came to mind, a Military Veteran, an author, and a frequent lecturer on conservative issues. Although medical marijuana was not the primary issue, I knew this person would be supportive. At this point there’s a lot of whispering going on in the hallways, people pulling each other aside and talking under their breath. I knew that a good number of people would unite behind this candidate, and I was able to feel confident in my ability to “whip the votes.”

Time was of the essence. I ran across the street to the Omni Hotel and printed up flyers, highlighting the candidate’s qualifications. After some trouble with the printer, I made it back to the convention just in time. I walked into our SD Caucus and handed everyone the flyers. There were two other candidates in the race for platform committee. Although my preferred candidate did not win, we pulled about 30% of the vote and made an impact on the outcome of the race.

Immediately after the SD Caucus, the Permanent Platform Committee met and the moment of truth was upon us. There was a great deal of commotion outside the meeting room because it wasn’t big enough to seat everyone. People were outside the door yelling for them to relocate the meeting to a larger space. Some of the committee members had changed due the immigration plank of the platform, which was the most contentious issue up for debate. I tried to peer into the room to see who was on the committee. I was curious to find out any of our people were elected to the committee in other senate districts, but I assumed they didn’t have any better luck than I did.

Ann Lee testifying before the platform committee Photo credit: Zoe Russell

Ann Lee testifying before the platform committee
Photo credit: Zoe Russell

The medical cannabis amendment failed. Some of the committee members, who supported the amendment the day before ended up changing their vote. This may have been due to our opposition whipping the votes against us. However, an additional amendment supporting “research into the medical efficacy of cannabis” was introduced by a member of the committee and passed. Unfortunately, our opposition filed a ‘minority report’ signed by 9 members of the committee in support of striking this language from the platform.

Perhaps the most amazing revelation was that another ‘minority report’ was filed, signed by 8 members of the committee, in support of adding the original medical cannabis amendment back into the platform. This was huge. A clear message was sent that support for medical cannabis is alive and well in the Texas GOP. We considered this to be a major victory because the issue would be up for debate during the general session on Saturday when the platform is adopted by the entire delegation.

On Friday morning, we arrived at the Fort Worth Convention Center at 6:00am, with 2000 RAMP newsletters in hand. Volunteers, including founders of the group MAMMA (Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism) Thalia Michelle and Amy Lou Falwell, helped line seats with our literature. This day, we decided to forget about the platform and the stress, it’s time to network, educate people about medical cannabis, conduct interviews with media, and talk to as many elected officials as we can.

Founders of MAMMA - Amy Lou Falwell and Thalia Michelle conducting a radio interview in the exhibitor area of the convention. Photo credit: Jason Miller

Founders of MAMMA – Amy Lou Falwell and Thalia Michelle conducting a radio interview in the exhibitor area of the convention.
Photo credit: Jason Miller

On Saturday morning, several of us arrived early to get spots near each of the four microphones in the general convention arena. We wanted to make sure we were able to testify in support of medical cannabis. As the platform adoption process started, medical cannabis was the first topic up for debate. Our minority report in support of adding the amendment back in to the platform was introduced from the stage.

Ann Lee spoke in favor of this amendment and told her story. She told the delegation about her son Richard and his injury. She used her entire 5 minutes of testimony and made a very clear point that garnered a great deal of applause, “Why should the federal government be able to prevent us from using a natural medicine that is clearly beneficial to sick people?”

One person spoke in opposition to the amendment and tried to convince the delegation that Marinol and medical marijuana are the same thing, which is clearly false.

Dr. Teryn Driver, a delegate from League City, made an emotional argument about children suffering from epilepsy and passionately educated the delegation about Cannibidiol (CBD).

A motion was made to end debate and the crowd voted in favor of it. (The delegation will typically always vote in favor of anything that moves the process along faster). We then voted on adding the medical marijuana amendment back into the platform and it failed. We expected this to happen.

The next item of business is the ‘minority report’ striking the support for research into the medical efficacy of cannabis from the platform. Zoe Russell, the assistant executive director for RAMP, spoke in opposition to striking this language; she testified that Texas prides itself on medical innovation and that getting our federal government out of the way of promising research will be a tremendous benefit to our medical community. She pointed out that Republicans don’t like federal interference in our healthcare choices and that should include the ability to conduct medical research. Her remarks were met with cheers and applause.

Immediately following Zoe’s testimony, debate was cut off. A vote was taken, but it wasn’t clear. After a bit of demagoguery by the Chairman and a clarification that a no vote would leave the language in the platform, the vote was taken again. It was very close, but the yes votes won and the language supporting research of medical cannabis was stricken from the platform.

Ann Lee speaking in favor of medical marijuana  Photo credit: Zoe Russell

Ann Lee speaking in favor of medical marijuana
Photo credit: Zoe Russell

Our opposition’s only real strategy was to cut off testimony as quickly as possible. They don’t want the delegation to hear our message. They don’t want any discussion about changing these laws. But we’re having the discussion. We’re winning over the hearts of minds of people, and we had been doing it all week. After the convention ended, I made my way down the road about 4 blocks to the Texas Regional NORML Conference. Exhausted, I dragged myself into the conference and took a seat.

Overall, the Texas GOP Convention was a huge success. We’re furthering the discussion about marijuana reform among Republicans and we’re having fun in the process. My time spent in Fort Worth was well worth it. I learned a lot about politics and procedure, activism and how to communicate and network with people. We met supporters from all over the state and we expanded our network. We’re now gearing up for the 2015 legislative session and we’re determined to legalize marijuana in the great state of Texas.

It ain’t gonna legalize itself.

Stay up to date on NORML Houston’s activities by following them on Facebook here.

MPP’s Rob Kampia Discusses the Future of Texas Marijuana Policy Reform

March 4th, 2014

On March 1, MPP officially began lobbying for marijuana policy reform directly in the Texas legislature. Over the next several years, we will be working with supportive lawmakers and local advocates to remove the threat of jail for simple possession of marijuana, and eventually end marijuana prohibition altogether in the Lone Star State.

Here is MPP’s executive director, Rob Kampia, discussing the future of marijuana policy reform on KXAN:

Texas Voters Want To Legalize Marijuana

October 8th, 2013

MarijuanaA majority of Texas voters support marijuana legalization, according to a recent survey. Public Policy Polling found that 58 percent of Texans “support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol.” Even more — 61 percent — were in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession and instead punishing violations with a civil citation.

Texas law currently views possession of marijuana, even on a minute scale, as a criminal offense, punishable by $2,000 in fines and up to a year of jail time. The PPP survey of 860 randomly selected Texas voters was released by the Marijuana Policy Project.

“Most Texans agree that marijuana sales should be conducted by legitimate businesses instead of drug cartels in the underground market,” MPP executive director Rob Kampia said in a release.

In addition, the poll found that a majority of Texas voters support changing state law to permit critically ill and terminal patients to use medical marijuana — only 31 percent said they were opposed.

“People suffering from cancer and multiple sclerosis should not face the threat of arrest for using medical marijuana if their doctors believe it will help ease their suffering,” Kampia said.

Nationwide, support for marijuana legalization is on the rise, with 52 percent of Americans in favor of legalizing marijuana use, according to a recent national Gallup survey.

Last November, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana through referendums, catalyzing similar efforts in California, Arizona, Oregon and Alaska heading toward the 2014 midterm elections. Is Texas next?

Source: Huffington Post (NY)
Author: Shadee Ashtari, The Huffington Post
Published: October 8, 2013
Copyright: 2013 HuffingtonPost.com, LLC
Contact: scoop@huffingtonpost.com
Website: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Majority of Texans Support Taxing and Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol

October 8th, 2013

A poll conducted at the end of September shows that 58% of Texas voters favor taxing and regulating marijuana in their state.  TexasTexas currently does not allow marijuana, either recreationally or for medical uses. In fact, an adult faces up to a year of jail time and a $2,000 fine for possession of even small amounts of marijuana.  Despite the harsh current policy, 61% of Texans supported removing criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and implementing a $100 fine instead.  Only 30% of those polled said they were against removing the criminal penalties, and remarkably only 38% said they would oppose a measure to tax and regulate marijuana.

Removing the threat of arrest could be a momentous change for the nearly 1.5 million adult marijuana users living in Texas, where 68,758 adults were arrested for simple marijuana possession in 2007 alone.  It is estimated that in 2006, Texas spent over $655 million on marijuana arrests, yet marijuana use continues to increase.

Rob Kampia, part-time Texas resident and MPP executive director, commented on the poll:

Marijuana prohibition has been just as big a failure as alcohol prohibition.  Most Texans agree that marijuana sales should be conducted by legitimate businesses instead of drug cartels in the underground market.

Law enforcement officials’ time would be better spent addressing violent crimes instead of adults simply possessing marijuana.  No adult should face potentially life-altering criminal penalties for using a product that is significantly less harmful than alcohol. 

You can read the full results of the poll here.

Everything is Bigger in Texas, Including Support for Marijuana Legalization

October 8th, 2013

normlpollban

They say things are bigger in Texas and, according to new survey data just released by Public Policy Polling, that includes support for marijuana law reform.

PPP’s polling found that 58% of Texans support regulating marijuana like alcohol and only 38% were opposed. This change in policy was supported by 59% of women, 70% of Democrats, 57% of Independents, a majority of all racial demographics, and a majority of all age demographics.

The survey also reported that 58% of Texans supported medical marijuana and 61% supported the decriminalization of possession of an ounce or less.

You can read the full survey here.

With a high profile governor’s race shaping up between Senator Wendy Davis, the only declared
Democrat, and a Republican challenger (Attorney General Abbot seems to be leading in current polls) the time is ripe to make marijuana law reform a major issue in America’s second most populated state.

TEXANS: You can contact the announced candidates for Texas governor by clicking on their links below. Send them a quick message telling them:

“Public Policy Polling found that 58% of Texans support ending our costly war on marijuana and replacing it with a system of regulation similar to how we deal with alcohol. This majority support was spread across all age and ethnic demographics. It is time we consider a new approach to marijuana. As a Texas voter, I am very concerned with your position on the issues of marijuana law reform and would greatly appreciate if you could inform me of your stance on the taxation and regulation of marijuana, as well as allowing for its medical use and decriminalization of personal possession.”

DEMOCRAT:
State Senator Wendy Davis

REPUBLICAN:
Attorney General Greg Abbott
Tom Pauken
Miriam Martinez
Larry Kilgore

(If you receive a response please forward it to erik@norml.org)

CANDIDATE RESPONSES:

Miriam Martinez (posted in response to a question on her Facebook page): “I support the medical use of marijuana and decriminalization of personal possession.”

Army Vet Denied Second Amendment Right Due to High School Marijuana Charges

July 11th, 2013

A retired Army veteran in Texas was recently barred from purchasing a gun after a background check turned up a misdemeanor marijuana conviction from 1971.

Ron Kelly, who served on the frontlines for 20 years (and fired “perhaps 100,000 rounds of government ammo” in that time), was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana while he was a high school student. He served a night in jail and a year of probation. As a result, he has been added to a list of Americans who are permanently prohibited from purchasing a gun.

Ron Kelly

Ron Kelly

Kelly’s case is not unique: There have been several court rulings on the legality of denying marijuana users their Constitutional rights. In 2011, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana patients cannot be stripped of their rights to own guns. Texas law, however, states that citizens can be prevented from owning guns if they are convicted of certain crimes. And federal law prevents anyone who uses illegal drugs to own or possess a firearm.

Kelly has contacted U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul and Sen. John Cornyn for their assistance in resolving the issue.