Legal pot in Texas? National group eyes legalization

JOSHUA FECHTER : JUNE 30, 2014 : Updated: June 30, 2014 5:37pm

AUSTIN — A national marijuana group is ramping up efforts to ease penalties for marijuana users in Texas and create a pathway to legalizing the drug statewide by 2019.

Heather Fazio, political director for the Marijuana Policy Project’s Texas arm, said the organization is drafting three bills to pitch to state legislators that would create legal protections for medical marijuana usage for patients and allow the drug to be taxed and regulated in the same manner as alcohol.

The focus comes after Colorado and Washington lifted state prohibitions on pot and legalized it for personal use for adults 21 and over.

Fazio called Texas “a critical state in the movement to repeal marijuana prohibition in America.”

“We are ramping up our efforts in light of what happened in those two states and that a growing number of Texans for in favor of legalizing marijuana and making it available to adults, just like alcohol,” Fazio said.

But, those efforts face an uphill climb in a deeply conservative state where lawmakers may be wary of the effects of legalization.

“The hard part is stepping away from this culture of fear, of being afraid to talk about this issue,” Fazio said.

Hope may lie in Texas’ right-wing insurgents who decry perceived federal overreach in areas deemed private, Fazio said, citing remarks by Gov. Rick Perry at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland earlier this year that he’s for the decriminalization of marijuana use, but not legalization.

“As governor, I have begun to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization” by introducing alternative “drug courts” that provide treatment and softer penalties for minor offenses, Perry said.

But, Texas Republicans rejected adding medical marijuana to their party platform during their convention in early June.

Matt Mackowiak, an Austin-based Republican consultant, said he doesn’t foresee sweeping marijuana legislation passing during the 2015 legislative session — especially with pressing issues such as the budget, water and transportation likely to suck up much of the session’s oxygen.

However, Mackowiak said he wouldn’t rule out a smaller move toward decriminalization making its way through the Legislature. But, that relies on lawmakers’ willingness to take up the topic.

“I don’t know that that risk vs. reward calculation ended up being in favor of taking action on marijuana,” Mackowiak said.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/politics/article/National-marijuana-group-eyes-legalization-in-5590729.php

Law Officer Drug Survey

The results are in. More than 11,000 sworn LEOs took time out of their busy schedules to tell us what they think about America’s fast-changing drug policy. The survey offers an excellent opportunity for the people on the front lines enforcing our drug laws to weigh in on the effect and effectiveness of those laws. We at Law Officer hope that these results will be of interest to policy makers and the general public as the nation arrives at a cohesive, sane and workable drug policy.

Perhaps the statistic that will be most striking to many readers is the fact that 36% of respondents think that marijuana should be legalized, with an additional 11% saying it should be legal with a doctor’s prescription. In other words, nearly half of all respondents think marijuana should be legalized in some proscribed capacity. But respondents were also clear that this is not a panacea. They foresee increases in addiction (61%), impaired driving (76%) and domestic violence (57%) as a result of legalization or decriminalization of drugs. Meanwhile, a recent nationwide poll conducted by the Associated Press reveals that approximately 75% of Americans think that marijuana legalization seems inevitable, whether they support it or not.

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Sanjay Gupta Says Medical Marijuana Should Be Legalized Federally

CNN Worldwide All-Star Party At TCAIn the past year, Sanjay Gupta has made no secret of his support for medical marijuana.

A desire for policy change has always been implicit in that support. But in an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post on Friday, CNN’s chief medical correspondent called for full-scale federal legalization of medical marijuana in no uncertain terms.

“In terms of making this legal for medicinal purposes — yes, and there are both very pragmatic reasons and more subjective reasons for that,” Gupta said.

He added that federal legalization of medical cannabis should happen if for no other reason than to address the “ridiculousness of the refugee situation” in Colorado.

Read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/10/sanjay-gupta-medical-marijuana-legalization_n_4932277.html

UT/TT Poll: Few Texans Would Keep Marijuana Illegal

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Most Texans would support the legalization of marijuana for medical use, and close to a majority would support legalization for any use, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Only 23 percent of Texas registered voters said marijuana should be illegal in all cases. Another 28 percent would legalize it for medical use only, and 49 percent would legalize marijuana for any purpose, either in small quantities (32 percent) or in any quantities (17 percent).

Read more here: http://www.texastribune.org/2014/02/26/uttt-poll-few-texans-would-keep-marijuana-illegal/

Grassroots Action for Legislative Reform