Where do the Candidates Stand on Marijuana Policy? | Texas House District 28 Special Election

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is a broad coalition of organizations, activists, and community leaders dedicated to realizing effective, efficient, and evidence-based marijuana policies in Texas.

After years of service, Rep. John Zerwas (R) has retired, triggering a special election in Texas House District 28. Seven candidates have offered to serve. We asked each candidate the following questions:

1) Do you support statewide decriminalization (penalty reduction) for possession of small amounts of marijuana (1oz. or less)?

2) Do you support expanding the Compassionate Use Program to put Texas on par with the 33 states that currently allow safe and legal access for patients with debilitating medical conditions and a doctor’s approval?

3) Do you support legalizing adult (21+) use of marijuana in Texas, replacing the illicit market with well-regulated cultivators and dispensaries?

Meet the Candidates

Gary J. Hale (R)

Decriminalization of Small Amounts: Yes.
Expanding Medicinal Access: Yes.
Legalization of Adult Use: Yes.

Additional Comments: I am an advocate of legalization and decriminalization of marijuana. Most importantly I support medicinal use of marijuana since there is some evidence that it helps mitigate some medical conditions such as PTSD, Cancer, Epilepsy and other conditions. I have had two back surgeries and I know what chronic pain is, having suffered debilitating episodes of pain. If believe that marijuana as a pain reliever option would likely be a better option than opioid products. Secondly, I support removing marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Too many lives are being ruined for possession of user quantities of marijuana, what should otherwise be considered a misdemeanor. 

When I was a uniformed police officer in the late 1970’s, I applied law enforcement discretion and discarded user quantities of marijuana, that I encountered on anyone or in their vehicles, right there on the street, so that they would not have to be arrested and have their lives ruined by an arrest record.  I also counseled those people to leave and use their marijuana at home so as to avoid arrest. The federal government needs to recognize that a democracy is founded on the will of the people. Many duly elected state legislatures have decriminalized marijuana; the federal government needs to follow suit and apply drug enforcement efforts to decidedly  more dangerous drugs. 

Website: http://www.garyhalefortexashouse28.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/garyhaleforTX28/
Email: garyhalefortx28@gmail.com

Eliz Markowitz (D)

Decriminalization of Small Amounts: Yes.
Expanding Medicinal Access: Yes; in conjunction with appropriate medical policies.
Legalization of Adult Use: Yes; in conjunction with appropriate regulatory policies.
Additional Comments: None.

Website: https://www.eliz4tx.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Eliz4TX/
Email: Eliz@Eliz4TX.com

Clinton D. Purnell (R)

Decriminalization of Small Amounts: I do not support a penalty reduction for possession of small amounts of marijuana (1oz. or less)
Expanding Medicinal Access: I do support the Compassionate Use Program under a doctor’s care to allow legal access for patients with debilitating medical conditions such as seizures. 
Legalization of Adult Use: I do not support legalizing the use of marijuana in Texas, for any use other than medical. 
Additional Comments: None.

Website: https://clintdpurnell-for-state-rep-dist28.com
Facebook: None.
Email: purnellclint@hotmail.com

Unresponsive Candidates

Anna Allred: https://www.allredtx.com/
Gary Gates: garygatesfortexas@gmail.com
Sarah Laningham: howdy@sarahlaningham.com

Election Information

Election Day is Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Early Voting: October 21 – November 1, 2019

Find information about where to vote here: https://www.votetexas.gov/voting/where.html

Thank you for making marijuana law reform a priority when you cast your vote on November 5!

Texas Marijuana Policy Background

Medical Cannabis
In 2015, Texas established the Compassionate Use Program, which allows limited access to low-THC (.5% THC or less) medical cannabis. The program was minimally expanded in 2019 and advocacy efforts continue with aims of making this program more inclusive.

Decriminalization/Penalty Reduction
All political parties agree that penalties for low-level marijuana possession (1oz. or less) should be reduced to remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and criminal record. Last session, the House passed a measure to achieve these objectives, but was stalled in the Senate.

Legalization (Adult Use 21+)
Texas public opinion in support of repealing marijuana prohibition has recently hit a plurality, but most lawmakers have been resistant to discussions about legalizing and regulating cannabis for adult use. It’s expected that this aspect of marijuana law reform will be getting more attention in future legislative sessions.