All posts by Heather Fazio

Marijuana inspires strange politics

Houston Chronicle
Posted on May 10, 2015 | By Chris Ladd

The campaign to legalize marijuana took a strange turn this week. weed-300x215A committee in the Texas House approved a bill that would remove the state’s prohibitions entirely. Procedural obstacles unique to the Texas Legislature mean that the bill will not likely make it to a vote in this session. Nonetheless their action is an unprecedented landmark, a sort of Reagan-in-Reykjavik moment for conservatives in the debate over the drug war. Here’s why.

Two Republicans joined three Democrats on the House’s Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to approve the sweeping proposal and send it to the House’s calendar committee. One of them is David Simpson, a Tea Party star who introduced the measure.

Having Simpson back an unusual piece of legislation is perhaps not all that interesting. He’s the guy who led the State House’s idiotic fight against the Homeland Security Department’s airport screening rules two sessions ago. To put it succinctly, he’s an odd duck.

There are two other factors that make this scenario worth watching. First is Simpson’s reasoning. He introduces a rare touch of ideological consistency to a so-called “libertarian” movement that seems mostly interested in imposing Christian fundamentalist sharia. In an argument laced with more scriptural references than the average Sunday sermon, Simpson makes this unusually insightful observation in a blog post at the Texas Tribune:

You would think that our country’s history with alcohol prohibition — an era marked by bootlegging, organized crime, government corruption and a rise in crime in general — would have prevented us from making the same mistake again.

But our current “war on drugs” policies, though well intended, have accomplished the exact opposite, spurring a proliferation of ever-changing exotic designer drugs and a disregard for constitutional protections in the name of eliminating drugs at any cost. Just think of no-knock warrants, stop-and-frisk, civil asset forfeiture and billionaire drug lords.

In other words, a far right Tea Party fundamentalist examined a complex issue of national importance and reached a nuanced, intelligent conclusion that could form the basis of bipartisan policy-making. This does not happen every day. It deserves appreciation.

But for a serious political watcher this is still not the most interesting thing about the committee’s vote this week. What’s truly groundbreaking is that Simpson was joined in his yes vote on HB 2165 by Republican Rep. Todd Hunter from Corpus Christi.

Read more here: http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2015/05/marijuana-inspires-strange-politics/

Why the Christian Right Is Backing Marijuana Reform in Texas

By Rebecca McCray | Takepart.com
May 7, 2015 4:08 PM
Takepart.com
Tex-marijuana
Big hair. Big barbecue. Big sky. Big guns. As the saying goes, everything’s bigger in Texas—but the state hardly has an outsize reputation for progressive marijuana reform.

If this legislative session is any indication, that could be changing. While previous sessions have seen one or two marijuana-related bills introduced, 11 bills taking on various facets of marijuana prohibition were introduced this session—including an effort to decriminalize—and on Wednesday the most comprehensive among them survived the Texas House of Representatives Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

Introduced and backed by Rep. David Simpson of Longview—a Republican, Christian legislator who is supported by the Tea Party—H.B. 2165 would legalize marijuana possession for both recreational and medicinal use and create a system for the legal sale of the plant. The bill will now move to a full floor debate and vote in the House.

While marijuana legalization may bring to mind more liberal states such as Colorado and Washington or a dorm room full of hippies, the movement in Texas—and elsewhere in the country—is increasingly backed by conservatives.

“From a fiscal perspective, most Republicans already think marijuana use is not a major risk to public safety,” Zoe Russell, assistant director of Texas-based Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, told TakePart. “That message resonates across the board.”

Read more here: http://news.yahoo.com/why-christian-backing-marijuana-reform-texas-200846673.html

“Sea change” in attitude toward marijuana in Texas

Doug Miller, KHOU 11 News
8:26 p.m. CDT May 7, 2015

Inside an old restaurant a short walk from Allen’s Landing, the birthplace of Houston, the Pachyderm Club holds its luncheons.

The group is staunchly Republican, mostly older and Anglo, but with a few younger Asians and Hispanics in the mix. It could easily be mistaken for a small Rotary Club except for the prevalence of elephant lapel pins.

But the most surprising thing about the crowd is another kind of pin, worn by a few of the Pachyderm Club members. “RAMP” is the message, an acronym for Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition.

Read more here: http://www.khou.com/story/news/local/texas/2015/05/07/sea-change-in-attitude-toward-marijuana-in-texas/70979352/

Marijuana bills find unexpected windfall of support in Texas

May 7, 2015, 3:00pm CDT
by Kimberly Reeves

weed-marijuana-thinkstock*600xx2117-1410-0-0 The so-called “marijuana agenda” has seen a late spurt of success with the passage of three key bills out of a House committee and the Senate.

The bill with the best chance of getting out of both chambers this session is a small pilot project that would provide low-grade medical marijuana to those with intractable epilepsy. Parents who testified on the bill were vocal and passionate. That bill, Sen. Kevin Eltife’s Senate Bill 339, passed off the Senate floor, 26-5.

Heather Fazio of the Marijuana Policy Project said the idea that Texas, with so many conservative lawmakers, would pass a medical marijuana bill this session is huge. It also means Texas could join a growing number of states that would allow the use of marijuana for a limited range of medical uses, if it passes the House in time. The legislative session ends at the end of the month.

Read more here: http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/blog/abj-at-the-capitol/2015/05/marijuana-bills-find-unexpected-windfall-of.html?ana=e_du_pub&s=article_du&ed=2015-05-07&u=yCqE7J6OYY31q7BfK2x6NaBNBQ+&t=1431029602

BILL TO LEGALIZE RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA USE IN TEXAS CLEARS HOUSE COMMITTEE

ABC13, Houston

A proposal seeking full legalization of marijuana on religious grounds has cleared an unlikely legislative hurdle.

Republican state Rep. David Simpson of Longview argues marijuana comes from God and therefore shouldn’t be banned by government. The tea party stalwart has repeatedly championed what he calls the “Christian case” for legalization.

Simpson’s bill languished for weeks before the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. Three committee Democrats and two Republicans surprisingly voted to support it Wednesday, though, and it passed 5-2.

Texas House Committee Approves Bill to Make Marijuana Legal for Adults

AUSTIN — The Texas House of Representatives Criminal Jurisprudence Committee approved a bill 5-2 Wednesday that would end marijuana prohibition in the state.

HB 2165, introduced in March by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), would strike references to marijuana offenses from Texas statutes, resulting in marijuana being treated similarly to other legal crops.

Nearly three out of five Texas voters (58%) support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol, according to a statewide survey conducted by Public Policy Polling in September 2013.

Four states have adopted laws that regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. Two of them, Colorado and Washington, have established regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and sales. Alaska and Oregon are in the process of implementing similar systems.

“Marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered in the Lone Star State. Texas voters recognize that punishing adults for consuming a substance that is safer than alcohol is a waste of law enforcement resources and an affront to individual liberty. It appears most of the committee members agree.

“State officials are increasingly becoming fed up with the failed federal government policy of marijuana prohibition, and they’re taking action. Like most Americans, most Texans are ready for a more sensible, fiscally sound marijuana policy.”

Marijuana Reform Moves Forward — A message from Rep. Joe Moody

Friends:Rep. Joe Moody

I’m very excited to report that the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence voted out House Bill 507, my measure to make possession of a small amount of marijuana a civil infraction instead of a crime, with bipartisan support yesterday.

House Bill 507 will make a huge dent in the $734 million of taxpayer money we spend every year on arresting, jailing, and prosecuting people who haven’t done anything else wrong. The bill will also keep law enforcement focused on more serious issues and young people from winding up with criminal records that can haunt them for the rest of their lives.

I don’t believe I’m overstating the significance of this vote to say that it was historic. No measure like this has ever been filed before in Texas, so having it reported favorably from committee was a huge step.

It was a difficult road to get here. I’ve been working with interested parties from all over the state–all over the country, actually–since last year, and at times negotiating the best, most balanced bill was tough. But I knew this bill was the right thing to do, so I never gave up, which is why the bill is now moving forward to the full House.

If you have any questions about this bill or anything else going on in the homestretch of this legislative session, please touch base with my office. Thanks so much for your support!

Onward,
Rep. Moody's Signature

 

 

Joe Moody
State Representative | District 78

Bill to reduce penalties for marijuana possession advances in Texas House

By: Ashlei King
FOX San Antonio
May 5, 2015

SAN ANTONIO – Texans who support the decriminalization of marijuana hope to see history made.

The Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence approved a bill on Monday that would reduce penalties for people caught with a small amount of pot.

“We’re looking to really mobilize the grassroots because the citizens of Texas are ready for this. We just have to communicate that with our legislators and that’s what we’re doing right now,” Heather Fazio, Marijuana Policy Project Political Director, said.

HB 507 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 find of up to $250.

Read more here: http://www.foxsanantonio.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/bill-reduce-penalties-marijuana-possession-advances-texas-house-12556.shtml#.VVKI11qJnwx

SPECIAL REPORT: Moving for Medical Marijuana

MyFoxAustin
By Ann Wyatt Little

Posted: May 05, 2015 10:25 PM CDT
Updated: May 05, 2015 10:25 PM CDT

Sherise Nipper and her family are going to Colorado.Sherise Nipper

“My body is tired and there are some days I just feel like I can’t get up anymore,” she explains. The 35-year-old will take part in a 30 day cannabis trial.

“The only reason I can’t be healed in Texas is because of politics and to me that’s not very fair.”

Seizures have been a part of her life for ten years now after being diagnosed with epilepsy. Despite a cocktail of medications, she still suffers

“In the past 24 hours I’ve had more than 50 seizures.”

She’s taken CBD Oil before which her husband says helped.

“Just in the little bit she’s tried it’s severely decreased her seizures,” he told FOX 7 reporter Ann Wyatt Little. Nipper had several seizures during a recent visit to the Texas Capitol but that didn’t stop her from lobbying lawmakers.

“We’re trying everything to be able to get relief from my seizures but I’m afraid if I stay here in Texas waiting on legislation I’m going to die waiting.” Nipper would like to see Texas legalize the whole plant.

While she may not get what she wants this session, Representative Stephanie Klick is working to give some epilepsy patients an option with House Bill 892.

“It allows an extract of cannabis plant to be used,” explained Rep. Klick.

The Republican from Fort Worth is a registered nurse. Her bill has support from both sides of the aisle.

“I know there are those who want a broader based medical bill but there really isn’t the support for it.”

Time, education and constituent’s struggles changed Klick’s view on the issue.

“There are 150,000 people in Texas intractable epilepsy and we believe this approach has a low risk of abuse and puts another tool in the tool box for doctors,” Klick said.

Nipper believes Klick’s bill is a step in the right direction but more needs to be done. While lawmakers debate, she’ll be in Colorado hoping and praying for relief.

“We really need the laws to change here in Texas. If they don’t I’m afraid we won’t be able to stay,” Nipper said.

Read more here: http://www.myfoxaustin.com/story/28987858/special-report-moving-for-medical-marijuana

Texas House committee approves reduced penalties for marijuana possession

Ask your representative to support HB 507.

This evening, the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence approved HB 507, a bill that removes the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of small amounts of marijuana — replacing them with a civil fine of up to $250. The measure will now advance to the Calendars Committee to be scheduled for a vote by the Texas House.

Call now to ask your representative to support HB 507.

Under current Texas law, individuals found with less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested, jailed for up to six months, and fined up to $2,000. But Texans want to see this changed!

More than 60% of Texas voters support limiting the punishment for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a fine, according to a September 2013 Public Policy Polling survey.

“Texas cannot afford to continue criminalizing tens of thousands of citizens for marijuana possession each year,” said Rep. Joe Moody, who sponsors HB 507. “We need to start taking a more level-headed approach. It is neither fair nor prudent to arrest people, jail them, and give them criminal records for such a low-level, nonviolent offense.”

According to FBI data, there were 72,150 arrests or citations issued for marijuana-related offenses in Texas in 2012, 97% of which were for simple possession. That same year, nearly 90% of all burglaries, including home invasions, and 88% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.

Thank you for your continued support and activism! Please share this with like-minded friends or family.