Texas' short legislative session has begun, and over a dozen bills have already been filed to change the state's marijuana policies. A lot of progress has been made since the last time the Texas Legislature was in session, and now is the time to reach out to your lawmakers.
For added impact, talk to your lawmakers in person. Our allies at Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy will be holding a lobby day on Thursday, February 7. The day will start with a legislative advocacy training and then teams will break off to reach out to their specific lawmakers. The two big priorities for this session are decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and expanding access to medical marijuana.
So please, do your best to make it to Austin next Thursday, and be sure bring friends and family. Whether or not you can make it, please use our action form to send a quick email to ask your lawmakers to replace arrests and jail time with a modest fine for marijuana possession. Or, you can ask them to support comprehensive medical cannabis legislation.
Texas legislators are back in Austin for another round of policy considerations, and Rep. Eddie Lucio III has introduced HB 85, a medical cannabis improvement bill. This proposal would allow some patients to access whole plant cannabis, including those with terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis, autism, or Parkinson’s Disease.
This bill is more restrictive than the bill introduced during the regular session, but it would still be a major step forward for many seriously ill patients. Currently, the Compassionate Use Program only allows those with intractable epilepsy access to low-THC cannabis. Texas cannabis businesses are expected to be operational by the end of the year.
This will be a very politically charged special session, established to address a specific list of issues that Gov. Greg Abbott and other Texas conservatives consider priorities.
Texas Advocates Release TV Ad Featuring Active Duty Police Officer and Victim of Marijuana Prohibition
A television ad in support of a bill to reduce marijuana penalties in Texas will begin airing Friday, just days before the state House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure. It can be viewed here.
The 30-second spot features Nick Novello, an active duty police officer and 23-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, and Heather Jackson of Houston, an ovarian cancer survivor who was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana in El Paso in 2007.
“Arresting people for marijuana possession does not make our communities any safer,” Novello says in the ad. “It’s a terrible waste of police resources.”
Jackson notes that she was found with less than one gram of marijuana and spent a total of four days in jail. She was initially jailed for two days. She was forced to spend an additional two days in jail because she violated the terms of her probation by traveling from El Paso to Houston for treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“It has affected so many different things in my life,” Jackson says in the ad. She now has a criminal record that has prevented her from getting a teaching job.
The ad concludes by urging viewers to tell their legislators to support HB 81, a bipartisan bill that would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250. A fourth offense would result in a misdemeanor punishable by only a fine. The measure passed out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee last month and is expected to receive a full vote in the House next week.
The ad is scheduled to air through Monday in Austin and through the weekend in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC.
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.