General

Texas: Marijuana policy voter guide released, early voting begins October 22

Our allies at Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy released a voter guide for the upcoming election. Early voting starts today, so please check it out, spread the word, and head to the polls!

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy’s coalition partners surveyed state and federal candidates and provided their unedited responses. They also included voting records from the last two legislative sessions for state-level incumbents.

Find out where your candidates stand.

Early Voting: October 22 – November 2, 2018
Election Day: November 6, 2018

For more information on where, how, and when to vote, visit VoteTexas.Gov.

Unfortunately, Texas doesn’t allow voters to collect petitions to put initiatives on the ballot. Only state lawmakers can initiate changes to the state’s marijuana policies. Who gets elected in November will be key to deciding when and if Texas enacts a medical cannabis law and stops criminalizing cannabis consumers.

So, please get educated and get voting!

Many thanks to Heather Fazio of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, Texas NORML, and everyone else who worked on the voter guide!

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General

Texas Advocates to Host Training Workshops in Early 2018

Marijuana policy reform is on the move in Texas thanks to advocates throughout the state. Trained individuals sharing their experiences with lawmakers have brought about unprecedented progress at the Texas Capitol. Let’s keep up the momentum!

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy and MPP are hosting a series of events throughout the state to empower individuals who want to effectively advocate for sensible marijuana policies in Texas. We’ll be visiting a city near you — register now to secure your seat.

These hands-on workshops will provide an opportunity to:

- review the political process and learn how you fit in;

- identify effective arguments for discussing marijuana law reform; and

- craft your personal message to lawmakers.

Once you’ve registered, please share this email with others who are interested in advancing liberty by reforming Texas’ unreasonable marijuana laws. You can also follow the workshop series’ live updates on our event page.

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Prohibition

Dallas Implements "Cite and Summons" Policy for Possession

On Friday, Dallas — Texas’ third largest city — implemented a policy that instructs police officers to issue citations and a summons to appear in court, rather than arresting those found in possession of marijuana. This new policy will spare people an initial trip to jail, which is a step in the right direction. However, individuals still face all the same criminal penalties, including up to six months in jail, up to $2,000 in fines, and a lasting criminal record.

In Texas, a criminal record carries the following collateral consequences:

-Hindered access to employment
-Diminished educational opportunities
-Impeded housing options
-Jeopardized parental rights
-Suspended drivers license (six months)
-Obstructed right to self defense/ license to carry (five years)

To see meaningful changes to marijuana laws in Texas, we must change the unreasonable statewide policies that allow for such harsh penalties.

If you are a Texas resident, please contact your legislators now in support of more reasonable penalties for marijuana possession.

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General

MPP Founder Rob Kampia Transitioning to New Role

As MPP's role in national and state marijuana policy reform efforts continues to grow and evolve, our leadership structure must also evolve. As such, MPP founder Rob Kampia is stepping down as executive director and will be assuming a new role in the organization.

We would like to thank Rob for his leadership and his continued work to end marijuana prohibition. Rob released the following statement:

I am excited to announce that I will be transitioning to the new position of director of strategic development with the Marijuana Policy Project.

Matthew Schweich, who joined MPP as the director of state campaigns in early 2015, will serve as interim executive director as the organization searches for a permanent executive director.

Back in 1993, I moved to D.C. three days after graduating from Penn State for the sole purpose of legalizing marijuana. Fully 19 years later, in 2012, MPP stunned the world by legalizing marijuana in Colorado, and in the four years since then, MPP legalized marijuana in four more states, being responsible overall for five of the eight states’ legalization laws.

When I co-founded MPP in 1995, medical marijuana was illegal in all 50 states, and it had been a decade since a good marijuana bill was even pending in Congress. Since 1995, MPP has passed half of the 29 states’ medical marijuana laws, and MPP was the lead organization that successfully lobbied Congress in 2014 to block the Justice Department from interfering with those state laws, and that amendment from Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is still the law nationwide.

I’m looking forward to spending more time on Capitol Hill to help craft and pass the best possible legalization law nationally. I also want to focus on legalizing marijuana in three of the 10 most populous states – Texas, New York, and Michigan.

Just yesterday, our Michigan campaign submitted a sufficient number of signatures to that state government, virtually guaranteeing that Michigan will be the only state to vote in November 2018 on a statewide ballot measure to legalize marijuana.

I'm honored to have served as executive director, I'm excited the board chose the person I nominated to serve as interim executive director, and I'm energized to help identify a new executive director to finish the job of ending marijuana prohibition in the U.S.

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Research

Texas House Committee Tasked With Studying Marijuana Laws

Although the Texas legislature does not reconvene until 2019, marijuana policy reform is on its agenda in the interim! Yesterday, Speaker of the House Joe Straus announced “interim changes” that committees will look into between legislative sessions — including by holding hearings and reporting back — and one of them is marijuana policy.

The House Criminal Justice Committee, led by Chairman Joe Moody (D-El Paso), will "study current practices for the enforcement of criminal laws against low-level possession of marijuana” and “examine the use of alternative punishments and improvements to criminal enforcement mechanisms and community supervision."

The subject is familiar to both Chairman Moody and his fellow committee members. Earlier this year, the committee heard testimony on and ultimately passed House Bill 81, Chairman Moody's proposal to replace criminal penalties with a simple citation/ fine for low-level marijuana possession. The bill died after it did not receive a floor vote.

Please stay tuned for opportunities to be part of this important conversation between legislative sessions, during which time an estimated 120,000 Texans will be arrested for marijuana possession.

If you are a Texas resident, please contact your legislators today in support of more sensible marijuana policies for Texas!

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Medical Marijuana

Texas Special Legislative Session Begins, Med. Marijuana Bill Introduced

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.

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Medical Marijuana

Texas Bill Would Create Committee to Study Medical Marijuana Before Next Legislative Session

May 24, 2017 Heather Fazio

Eddie Lucio III, HCR 149, study bill, Texas, TX

On Monday, Texas House Representative Eddie Lucio, III introduced House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 149, which requests that the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House of Representatives create a joint interim committee to study the feasibility of allowing medical cannabis in Texas.

While a resolution is not required to hold an interim committee study, passing this one will ensure that the study takes place. It also sends a signal that legislators care about patients.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted statewide provisions allowing patients access to cannabis therapy. Texas patients deserve these same protections.

If you are a Texas resident, please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support HCR 149.

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Uncategorized

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.

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Prohibition

Texas Marijuana Penalty Reduction Bill Advances

A proposal to reduce penalties for marijuana possession in Texas received bipartisan approval from the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday and will soon be scheduled for a full vote in the House. The measure passed by a vote of 4-2, receiving support from two Democrats and two Republicans.

HB 81, authored by committee Chairman Joe Moody (D-El Paso) and Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) with 37 co-authors, 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. Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

“This is a bipartisan proposal that represents a moderate shift in how Texas manages low-level marijuana offenses,” said Heather Fazio, a spokesperson for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy in a press release. “The state’s current policy of arresting and jailing people for simple marijuana possession is completely unwarranted. Law enforcement officials’ time and limited resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes."

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Prohibition

Texas Committee Approves Bill to Reduce Marijuana Penalties

A proposal to reduce penalties for marijuana possession in Texas received bipartisan approval from the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday and will soon be scheduled for a full vote in the House. The measure passed by a vote of 4-2, receiving support from two Democrats and two Republicans.

HB 81, authored by committee Chairman Joe Moody (D-El Paso) and Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) with 37 co-authors, 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. Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

Heather Fazio, spokesperson for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, released the following statement:

“This is a bipartisan proposal that represents a moderate shift in how Texas manages low-level marijuana offenses. The state’s current policy of arresting and jailing people for simple marijuana possession is completely unwarranted. Law enforcement officials’ time and limited resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes.

No one should be saddled with a lifelong criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol,” Fazio said. “Texans overwhelmingly agree that the punishment for simple marijuana possession should be reduced to a simple fine.”

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