All posts by Heather Fazio

PETITION: Ask Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to Support Sensible Marijuana Law Reform

In a statement to The Texas Tribune, Patrick’s spokesperson Alejandro Garcia said the lieutenant governor is “strongly opposed to weakening any laws against marijuana [and] remains wary of the various medicinal use proposals that could become a vehicle for expanding access to this drug.”

Sign this petition to ask Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to reconsider his position on this issue!

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is out of step with Texans on this important issue, including his own political party! The vast majority (80%+) of Texas voters support some kind of marijuana law reform this session and at their state convention last year, delegates to the GOP state convention adopted an official position on this subject:

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.
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 certified patients.

Join your fellow Texans in asking Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to
support sensible marijuana policy!

Please share this petition with your social media network to ensure he hears from as many Texans as possible on this important issue, then make a donation toward our efforts at the Capitol.

There’s a lot of work to do and we need all hands on deck to ensure success by the end of May!

Texas Public Health Establishes Subcommittee on Medical Marijuana

There are a record-setting 63 marijuana related bills up for consideration, including 17 proposals on medical marijuana!

In the Texas House, several bills have already been referred to the Public Health Committee for consideration. This is the first group of legislators tasked with approving or denying broader access to medical marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions.

This week, Chairwoman Senfronia Thompson established a Subcommittee on Medical Marijuana to vet the seven medical marijuana bills that have been referred so far. This subcommittee is made up of bipartisan membership, including Rep. Eddie Lucio, the author of HB 1365. His proposal would make the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive by adding to the list of qualifying conditions, removing the arbitrary cap on THC, and making several other changes to improve the functionality of the program.

The subcommittee will decide which bills get a hearing, then make a recommendation to the whole Public Health Committee. Rep. Lucio’s HB 1365 is the front runner with bipartisan support and several co-authors. We need your help to push this bill forward!

1) Ask your representative to co-author HB 1365Click here to do so easily.
2) Please pitch in with a contribute toward our efforts to educate lawmakers at the Capitol.

Thank you for your support and dedication to our shared cause!

Texas: More than 60 marijuana related bills introduced!

Texas Lawmakers Introduce a
Record Number of Marijuana Bills

So far, state legislators have introduced a record-setting – 63 – marijuana related bills. The movement for marijuana law reform is strong in Texas!

Of the many bills filed, Rep. Joe Moody’s HB 63 was the first to be heard in committee earlier this week. HB 63 would institute a simple civil penalty for marijuana possession, eliminating the threat of arrest, jail time, and criminal record for 1oz. or less. The bill has bipartisan support with 21 representatives having already signed their names to the bill! (Ask your representative to co-author HB 63.)

There are 17 different medical marijuana bills. We’re supporting Sen. Jose Menendez’s SB 90 and Rep. Eddie Lucio’s HB 1365, which has bipartisan support. If passed, either of these bills would make the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive by adding qualifying conditions and allowing whole plant access. Other proposals range in scope and can be found here.

We have a very short window of time this spring to pass meaningful marijuana law reform. Sign up for email updates, including legislative progress and action alerts.

Please consider making a donation to support our work at the Capitol!

Recap: House Committee Hearing on HB 63 (Civil Penalties for Marijuana Possession)

Representative Joe Moody’s House Bill 63 was considered by the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday evening, including hours of outstanding testimony from those who support the bill!

Supporters included judges, current and former prosecutors, law enforcement, an addiction specialists, victims of arrest for small amounts of marijuana, a representative from Rice University’s Baker Institute, the Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas, the ACLU of Texas, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition and many more – all in support of a more reasonable approach to marijuana policy in our state. (Watch here – begins @41 minutes.)

Several members of law enforcement opposed the bill. Their testimony amounted mostly to fear-based propaganda in support of the status quo. Expert testimony easily refuted their misinformation and legislators pushed back on base-less claims.

News Coverage:

Austin Statesman | Marijuana Moment |Houston Chronicle
 Texas Observer |KCEN Waco

The proposal would make it a civil offense ($250 fine) to possess up to one ounce of marijuana in Texas. This change in the law eliminates the arrest, jail time, and criminal record associated with low-level marijuana possession. The penalty increases to a Class C Misdemeanor after three civil penalties.

HB 63 has strong bipartisan support and several members of the committee have signed on as co-authors, including Criminal Jurisprudence Chairwoman Nicole Collier. Also of note: Corrections Chairman James White and State Affairs Chairman Dade Phelan have signed on as joint authors!

Ask your representative to co-author HB 63 today!

Right now, we have strong bipartisan support for reform in the Texas Legislature and a record setting number of bills have been introduced for consideration. There’s a very small window to make this happen before the session ends in May. It will take all of us doing this important work to get across the finish line!

Make a donation to support our work at the Capitol!

Now that the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee has heard HB 63, what happens next?

In the Texas Legislature, committees tend to leave bills pending after the hearing. They will typically vote on bills in batches. This means that it can take several weeks for a bill to be voted on, though this can vary. With growing support from committee members, we can expect a vote on HB 63 in the near future. Once the committee votes, they will issue a report on the bill that will be distributed to every member in the chamber. Learn more about the process.

What can you do to help today?

Rep. Joe Moody has expressed the need for Texans to reach out the their representatives and ask them to support HB 63. Ask your legislator to be a coauthor on HB 63 today! This will help continue to solidify the strong bipartisan support as the bill progresses.

Stay tuned! We will keep you updated on the progress of the bill and any additional actions that may need to be taken. Sign up for email updates and notifications.

 

Texas House Committee to Consider HB63, First Marijuana Bill of the Session

Bipartisan support grows and advocates, including several former members of law enforcement, prepare to testify in support of reduced penalties for low-level marijuana possession


AUSTIN -Today at the Capitol, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will hold a hearing on Rep. Joe Moody’s House Bill 63, which would institute a civil penalty for low-level marijuana possession. If passed, those caught with one ounce or less would be fined $250, but would face no jail or criminal record. The proposal aims to conserve valuable criminal justice resources and eliminate the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction.

–> Following hearing updates on our Facebook event page. <–

“The lasting effects of a criminal record can be devastating, causing far more harm than marijuana itself ever could,” says Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. “Regardless of political affiliation, Texans overwhelmingly agree that it’s time to change our state’s harsh marijuana laws.”

Moody’s bill already has bipartisan support, with four co-authors. Conservative support for reform has grown rapidly in recent years and at their state convention last year, Republicans opted to take a stand on marijuana law reform. Platform plank #107 states, “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.” The plank passed with more than 80% support.

“Texas House Bill 63 offers a glimmer of hope based on our current knowledge of marijuana research,” says Jay Hall, Retired Houston Police Lieutenant. “This bill also reflects that we are smart on crime with respect to our morality and ethics when we see the devastation that previous marijuana laws have done, especially to communities of color.”

At great cost to taxpayers, nearly 65,000 Texans were arrested for marijuana possession in 2017. Senior District Judge, John Delaney, is a long-time advocate for reform. In his testimony supporting HB 63, Judge Delaney puts these numbers into perspective: “To understand the magnitude of this volume of arrests, consider that it is greater than the number of arrests for murder, manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, fraud, and embezzlement, ALL COMBINED!”

“Having spent the last 25 years working within the Texas Criminal Justice System, I have seen first-hand the negative impact our marijuana laws have on people arrested and charged with simple possession,” says Danny Clancy, Former Criminal District Court Judge in Dallas County. Arresting and prosecuting peaceful, hardworking, tax paying Texas citizens, who possess small amounts of marijuana, as criminal defendants, is an unnecessary strain on limited resources earmarked for law enforcement.”

WHO: Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee
WHAT: Committee Hearing on HB 63, Rep. Moody’s bill to reduce penalties for low-level marijuana possession
WHEN: Monday, March 4, 2019 at 2:00pm

WHERE: Texas State Capitol, Room E2.0120


Witnesses Expected to Testify in Support of HB 63
:

Julie Stone, Former Prosecutor
Jay Hall, Retired Houston Police Lieutenant

Bryon Adinoff, MD, addiction psychiatrist
Katie Neill, Baker Institute at Rice University
John Delaney, Senior District Judge

Nicholas Hudson, ACLU of Texas

John Baucum, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition

Jason Vaughn, Young Republican Federation of Texas


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Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is a nonprofit advocacy organization working with a broad political coalition to advance sensible marijuana law reform in Texas.

Committee Hearing Scheduled for Texas HB 63 – Civil Penalty for Marijuana Possession

Texas House Bill 63 has been scheduled for a hearing!

On Monday, March 4, the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will consider several bill, including Rep. Joe Moody’s HB 63. The bill earned bipartisan support early on and is the first marijuana related bill to be scheduled for a hearing this session.

Follow this event page on Facebook for hearing updates.

House Bill 63 makes it a civil offense ($250) to possess up to one ounce of marijuana in Texas. This change in the law eliminates the arrest, jail time, and criminal record associated with low-level marijuana possession. The penalty increases to a Class C Misdemeanor after three civil penalties. (Policy Overview.)

Meetup Location for Advocates: E1.010 (12pm-5pm or later) – We have reserved room E1.010 so we have a home base throughout the afternoon/evening. There is plenty of seating, power outlets, and we’ll be able to live stream the committee meeting. Meet us there for an update on the hearing schedule, help signing up in support of the bill, materials to deliver to your representative’s office, and for help with your testimony if you’re going to provide it to the committee.

Committee Hearing Room: E2.012 (2pm-?) – The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will begin its meeting at 2pm. There’s no way to know exactly when HB 63 will be considered, so plan on it being a long day. We could be at the Capitol late into the evening.

Provide the committee a testimonial if you have personal or professional experience. Testimony can be provided several ways:
– written and submitted via email. Submit here by noon on 3/3/19 – https://goo.gl/forms/CCTL9F0zOhlAUy882
– written/printed (12 copies) and submitted in person on the day of the hearing
– verbally to the committee (2 minutes).

Capitol parking info:
https://tspb.texas.gov/plan/parking/parking.html

Learn more about the bill: http://www.texasmarijuanapolicy.org/hb63/

Ask your representative to co-author the bill: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/ask-your-representative-to-co-author-hb-63-to-reduced-penalties-for-marijuana-possession

Please consider making a donation toward our efforts: https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/support-marijuana-law-reform-in-texas

#TXMJPolicy #Texas #Marijuana #TxLege

Texas Patient Lobby Day (March 4, 2019)

Our state’s Compassionate Use Program is unreasonably restrictive, leaving behind the vast majority of Texas patients who could benefit from medical cannabis. It’s time for a change!

If you are a patient who would like to have legal access to medical cannabis, please join us next week at the Capitol to share your story. If your loved one could benefit from cannabis, you’re also welcome to share your family’s experience.

Texas Patient Lobby Day
Monday, March 4, 2019
Texas State Capitol
Austin, Texas

Click here to register for free.

Led by Texas NORML, advocates will meet in the the Capitol Grill, located on the floor E1 at 8:30am. All materials will be provided and we’ll start our day with brief training, then we will break up into lobby teams and collectively visit with legislative offices. Please be sure to dress professionally and bring a couple printed copies of your testimony, if possible. (Your testimony can be a simple one-page letter outlining your experience and desire to have legal access to cannabis.)

Agenda:
8:30am – Registration/Check-in (Capitol Grill, E1)
9:30am – Training (Complimentary coffee service thanks to GRAV Labs!)
10:30am – Break into teams
11am – Start visiting offices!

Click here for more information, including parking, ADA accessibility, and free registration.

Thank you for your support of our work to pass meaningful marijuana law reform in Texas!

Medical Marijuana Exhibit Featured at Texas Capitol

Advocates for reform make their case citing increased public support and bipartisan backing

AUSTIN – The Texas Legislature has been in session for six weeks and dozens of marijuana-related bills have been introduced, including eight proposals to amend the state’s medical marijuana laws.

Advocates with Texas for Responsible Marijuana Policy are making their case at the State Capitol with a week-long exhibit, including displays featuring information about medical professionals and organizations who recognize the benefits of marijuana. We’re also featuring stories of Texans who have had to leave the state in order to access medical marijuana elsewhere. (Video tour.)

Under current law, those with intractable epilepsy have limited access to medical marijuana through the DPS regulated Compassionate Use Program. Since being enacted in 2015, the program has served less than 600 people statewide. Advocates say it’s time to open up the program to those with other debilitating medical conditions.

“Nearly 70% of Americans live in a state that has passed legislation allowing legal access to marijuana for medical purposes, including every state surrounding Texas,” says Jax Finkel, with the Foundation for an Informed Texas. “Most recently, Oklahoma, Utah, and Missouri have adopted laws allowing patients to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.”

Public opinion has shifted dramatically in recently years and medical marijuana is now supported by more than 80% of Texas voters, according to the most recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Even in conservative circles, approval is staggering. At their state convention last summer, the Texas GOP reaffirmed their support for legislative action to “allow doctors to determine the appropriate use of cannabis for certified patients.”

Mounting evidence from US and international research demonstrates proven efficacy of marijuana for certain medical conditions. In 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a “rigorous review of relevant scientific research published since 1999.” Their review found cannabis to be helpful for those suffering from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Researchers at the Salk Institute published a report in 2016 showing cannabis as an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and Israeli Israeli researchers have linked cannabis as an effective treatment for Crohn’s disease.

Dozens of marijuana-related bills have been filed, including eight proposals to expand access through the Compassionate Use Program. Advocates are optimistic that growing evidence and public support will sway lawmakers this year.

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Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is a nonprofit advocacy organization working with a broad political coalition to advance sensible marijuana law reform in Texas. Contribute toward our efforts here and sign up for email notifications/action alerts.

Texas Veterans Lobby Day & Educational Exhibit

On Monday, February 25, Texans Veterans for Medical Marijuana will host a veteran specific lobby day, including an educational exhibit at the Texas Capitol​, which is free and open to the public. Find more info and register here for free.

Our state’s Compassionate Use Program is currently so restrictive that it only allows access for those with intractable epilepsy. Millions of patients, including Texas veterans living with service related injuries, could benefit from medical cannabis. If you are a veteran who wants legal access to medical cannabis or if your loved one is a veteran who could benefit from access, please join us in Austin to lobby state lawmakers!

Texas Veteran Lobby Day & Educational Exhibit​
Monday, February 25, 2019
Texas State Capitol
1100 Congress Avenue | Austin, Texas 78701​
More information and free registration here​​.

Veteran Educational Exhibit | 8am-5pm | Capitol E2 Hallway​ (Map)
Our exhibit will feature information about Texas veterans with service related​ injuries and how many want to have access to medical cannabis as an alternative to some of the dangerous and addictive drugs they’re prescribed.

Veteran Lobby Day | 10am-3pmCapitol 1W.14 (Map)
Veterans, caregivers, and guests will gather to share personal stories about military service and their desire to have medical cannabis available as an option in Texas. All materials will be provided and we’ll start our day with brief training to discuss proposed medical cannabis bills and how citizen advocacy makes an impact on public policy decisions.

Special guest, Representative Donna Howard, a nurse and strong supporter of medical cannabis access will join us to discuss the issue and her perspective on our chances for reform this year.

Veteran advocates will break up into lobby teams and visit with our own legislators, plus key lawmakers, including health committee members. Please be sure to dress professionally. While the event is free, registration​ is important so we can provide adequate materials, seating and more.

Agenda:

  • 8am – Texas Veterans Exhibit Open in the E2 Hallway
  • 10am – Registration/Check-in (Agricultural Museum, 1W.14)
  • 11am – Training / Visit from Representative Donna Howard
  • Noon – Break for lunch with your teams
  • 1pm – Start visiting offices!
  • 5pm – Educational Exhibit ends

Capitol Visitors Parking (Map)
Parking is available in the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage at 1201 San Jacinto Blvd (free if you have a disabled vet license plate). Details available here​.

​We look forward to working with and empowering veterans who need and deserve legal access to medical cannabis!

Hundreds of Texans Lobby for Reform!

Hundreds of advocates from across the state joined us at the Texas Capitol to visit with their legislators in support marijuana law reform! Our event was covered by KVUE (video), Texas Public Radio (audio), KRLD Radio (broadcast and print). KXAN (video) also covered our work earlier in the week. 

Please consider making a contribution toward our efforts, so we can continue lobbying lawmakers directly and empowering effective grassroots action. 

More than two dozen marijuana related bills have been introduced for consideration by the 86th Texas Legislature, include proposals to decriminalize small amounts to expand medical access for patients.

We are in an excellent position to pass meaningful legislation this session! As we move forward through the legislative process, we are focused on two priority policies:

Reducing penalties for low-level possession
Our objective is to eliminate threat of arrest, jail time, and (most importantly) the criminal record currently associated with marijuana possession. (Support: HB 63 | SB 156)

Making the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive
We’d like to see the Compassionate Use Program made more inclusive by allowing more inclusive access to whole plant cannabis for patients with debilitating medical conditions like cancer, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and more. (Support: HB 1365 | SB 90)

Together, we will pass meaningful marijuana law reform in Texas. Thank you for your continued support and advocacy!