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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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."
Texas Legislative Sessions Begins With Efforts to Fix Medical Marijuana Law and Decriminalize Possession
The Texas Legislature convened for the 2017 session today. Rep. Joe Moody reintroduced legislation that would replace Texas’ harsh criminal penalties for marijuana possession with a simple citation. His proposal would eliminate the threat of arrest, jail time, and — most importantly — the lifelong consequences of a criminal conviction.
Meanwhile, Sen. Jose Menendez is leading the charge to fix Texas’ inadequate medical marijuana law. Effective medical marijuana programs have been created in 28 states, but Texas instead has an unreasonably restrictive law that leaves most patients behind and includes a fatal flaw.
If you are a Texas resident, please let your lawmakers know you want the state to fix the broken Compassionate Use Act Gov. Abbott signed into law in 2015, and to reduce the penalties for possession.
To find out where Texas candidates for state senator and state representative stand on marijuana policy reform, we surveyed them, compiled their voting records, and put together a voter guide to make it easy for those of us who consider this issue a priority.
There are two ways to view the results: