Texas Republican Party Calls for Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

With support from 82% of delegates, the Republican Party of Texas calls for state and federal level marijuana law reform

Last week in San Antonio, nearly 10,000 Texas Republicans gathered from across the state to attend to party business, including a vote on Saturday to decide what issues belong in their platform.

“A majority of Americans want to see marijuana laws reformed. Republican delegates demonstrated over the weekend that they are no exception,” says Heather Fazio, spokesperson for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy.

Among over 300 planks, four cannabis-related issues were adopted:

Civil Penalty: We support a change in the law to make it a civil, and not a criminal, offense for legal adults only to possess one ounce or less of marijuana for personal use, punishable by a fine of up to $100, but without jail time. (83% support.)

Compassionate Use Act: We call upon the Texas Legislature to improve the 2015 Compassionate Use Act to allow doctors to determine the appropriate use of cannabis to recommend to certified patients. (82% support.)

Cannabis Classification: Congress should remove cannabis from the list of Schedule 1 and moved to Schedule 2. (90% support.)

Hemp: We recognize industrial hemp as a valuable agricultural commodity. We urge the Texas Legislature to pass legislation allowing cultivation, manufacture and sale of industrial hemp and hemp products. (83% support.)

Photo Credit: KUT
Republican delegates made clear that they are dissatisfied with current marijuana policies and want to see changes made by elected officials at the state and federal level.

The Civil Penalty plank adopted on Saturday calls for a change in the state law that makes low-level marijuana possession a civil (not criminal) offense punishable by a $100 fine, but no jail time. A similar bill was introduced during the last two legislative sessions, but didn’t gather enough support to pass into law. Advocates are hopeful that, with the support of the Republican Party, the proposal will gain enough traction next session to be enacted.

“Sensible marijuana policy is not a partisan issue. It’s a matter of deploying public safety resources more efficiently and ensuring that penalties don’t carry the harsh collateral consequences currently associated with even a tiny amount of marijuana,” says Fazio.

Current criminal penalties for low-level marijuana possession include up to six months in jail, thousands of dollars in fines, and a life-long criminal record that hinders a person’s access to higher education and employment opportunities. A conviction also leads to an automatic six-month drivers license suspension as well as a five year suspension of the individual’s license to carry.

Even in conservative Texas, lawmakers are being sent a clear message: it’s time for a change.

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