All posts by Heather Fazio

Texas: Did your legislators support marijuana law reform?

Texas Marijuana Policy
Voting Records for Texas Legislators, 2015-2017

During the 2017 legislative session, advocates for marijuana law reform earned unprecedented support from Texas lawmakers. More than half of the House signed on to a bill that would have established a comprehensive medical cannabis program. HB 2107 would have made the Compassionate Use Program workable and more inclusive for Texas patients. Did you representative sign on as a co-author of the bill?

Chairman Moody’s HB 81 would have eliminated the threat of arrest, jail time, and criminal record currently associated with small amounts of marijuana. The bill was passed out of committee and scheduled for a vote by the House of Representatives, but was beat by the clock. Forty-one members of the House signed on as co-authors of the proposal. Was your representative one of them?

Find out with two steps!

  1. Identify your Texas state legislators here.
  2. Find their voting records here.

Texas Marijuana Policy — Primary Voter Guide COMING SOON!
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WATCH NOW: Legislative committee to discuss sensible marijuana policy

Watch the hearing now!

Chairman Joe Moody’s House Bill 334 would replace criminal penalties for marijuana possession with a simple ticket. This proposal would allow at least three opportunities for an individual to avoid arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for the possession of up to one ounce.

Today, the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will discuss the bill and consider testimony. You can watch online now.

Do you have personal or professional experience with our state’s current marijuana laws? If so, please consider sharing it with the committee.

Submit informal written testimony via email to the committee clerk, Rachel Wetzel <[email protected]>:

1) Attaching a PDF file to your email is best. Try to keep it to one page, including all your contact information.

2)  The title of your file and subject of your email should be as follows: “First and Last Name — Supporting HB 334”

During the regular session, this version of Chairman Moody’s civil penalties bill passed out of committee and was scheduled for a vote in the Texas House. Unfortunately, the clock ran out before representatives could cast their votes. Today’s hearing offers us an opportunity to keep this important issue alive and on the table for discussion.

VIDEO: Texas patients ask Governor Abbott for relief

Ask Governor Abbott to add medical cannabis to the special session!

Countless patients are needlessly suffering because Texas’ Compassionate Use Program is unreasonably restrictive. Advocates are calling on the governor to make patients a priority during the special session.

Will you join them? Contact Gov. Greg Abbott today, and ask him to allow lawmakers to take up medical cannabis legislation!

ProtectPatients.org

Currently, the program is limited to allowing patients with intractable epilepsy access to low-THC cannabis, a variation of the plant that helps very few. Worse, though, is that the role of doctors is flawed, making them vulnerable to federal interference.

During the regular legislative session, we saw tremendous bipartisan support for a bill that would have protected doctors and made this program more inclusive for patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions. More than half of the Texas House (78 representatives!) — including 30 conservative Republicans — signed on to the bill, demonstrating an unprecedented shift in opinion by lawmakers. Let’s keep up the pressure, Texas!

A special legislative session is underway, giving us another chance to improve this well-intentioned program. Advocates including patients, caregivers, veterans, and doctors are calling upon Governor Abbott to add medical cannabis to the special session agenda.

Please contact Governor Abbott and your legislators. Ask them to put compassion first and put people before politics! Then, share this message and video with other Texans, so that they, too, can raise their voices for compassion.

Texas Action: Ask Gov. Abbott to add medical cannabis to the special session!

Compassion should be inclusive. Contact the governor now!

During Texas’ regular legislative session this spring, more than half of the Texas House signed onto a bill that would make the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive. Unfortunately, that bill was beat by the clock and was not given a vote. There’s a special session underway now, giving us another chance to bring patients safe and legal access to medical cannabis!
Only Gov. Abbott can add an item to the list of issues legislators can consider during the special session. Contact him now!
Texas’ existing law only applies to patients with intractable seizures. Let the governor know: Patients with other debilitating conditions deserve protection, too.
Many of the issues being debated by legislators are contentious and causing heated debate along partisan lines. Unlike those issues, the matter of medical cannabis has earned bi-partisan support.
Take action today by contacting Gov. Abbott and your legislators; ask them to add this important issue to the special session for consideration. It’ll be tough to convince the governor to add anything relating to cannabis to the special session, so we need to create a groundswell of support. After you take action, please spread the word. Texas patients are counting on us.

Texas: Ask your representative to support Rep. Lucio III’s amendment to protect doctors

Doctors cannot prescribe cannabis, but they can recommend it. Let’s fix the law!

Texas’ Compassionate Use Program has a poison pill: It requires doctors to prescribe cannabis, which is illegal under federal law! Please email your representative today to ask him or her to support Rep. Lucio III’s amendment that would protect doctors who participate in the Compassionate Use Program by allowing them to “recommend” cannabis instead.
In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed the Compassionate Use
Program, allowing those with intractable epilepsy to access medical cannabis to treat their seizure condition. Rep. Lucio III is planning to put forward an amendment to the Medical Board sunset bill that would make a small change, protecting doctors and bringing our state law in line with federal requirements.
Because of cannabis’ status as a Schedule I drug, it cannot be “prescribed.” It can, however, be recommended, and patients can be formally certified by doctors through the state registry. (More information is available here.) This small change does not expand the program, it simply corrects a small error and provides protection for participating doctors to make sure the program actually works. No working medical cannabis law relies on doctors “prescribing” cannabis.
Please contact your representative now; then, share this email with those who are interested in making the Compassionate Use Program functional.
Thank you for your support and activism!

Texas Legislature adjourns without reforming marijuana laws. Where’s the silver lining?

They failed to improve the law, but progress was made thanks to you!

During the 2017 legislative session, we saw unprecedented progress in our effort to reform Texas’ outdated and inhumane marijuana laws!

Medical Cannabis

Introduced in House and Senate 

Bipartisan support with 77 co-authors

Public Hearing (outstanding testimony!)

Passed House committee with 7-2 vote!

Scheduled for a vote in the House.

Decriminalization

Introduced in House and Senate

Bipartisan support with 41 co-authors

Public Hearing (outstanding testimony!)

Passed House committee with 4-2 vote!

Scheduled for a vote in the House.

Vote on by the House. (Beat by the clock.)

To bring about this historic change, advocates from around the state called, wrote, and visited with their legislators to express support for reform.

Texans from all corners of the Lone Star State filled the halls of our Capitol on lobby day and provided excellent testimony
during committee hearings.

We hosted training events, press conferences, educational exhibits and legislative briefings. 

We filmed key advocates and produced two videos, one featuring a Texas caregiver and the other featuring a Dallas police officer, which aired on television.

All of this work, executed with professionalism and passion, brought the reform movement closer than ever to our goal of repealing Texas’ failed policies of marijuana prohibition. Between sessions, we will continue educating our lawmakers, building relationships, empowering advocates, and publishing a voter guide so representatives can be held accountable.

We’re in it to win it, so let’s keep up the pressure! Please take a moment to thank the lawmakers who championed reform legislation this session.

Onward!

Texas Marijuana Policy Reform: Well fought, but beat by the clock…

Compassionate use and penalty reduction bills run out of time to advance. Let us thank those who stood for sensible policy.

 Our Texas Legislature convenes for only 140 days every other year. This session, we made tremendous strides forward toward more sensible marijuana policies in Texas. Unfortunately, the legislation we’ve been supporting didn’t make it before clock struck midnight last night, the deadline for House bills that have passed committee to be voted on in the House.

Please consider sending a quick thank you note to the legislators who championed marijuana law reform.

There is one final way for us to see reform this session: amendments. Many bills are still in play at the Texas Capitol. We’re working to identify bills that can be amended to include language that would change Texas’ marijuana laws in a meaningful way. Keep an eye out for action alerts if/ when this happens.

You can find a full summary of each marijuana policy-related bill here.

And, here’s a breakdown of what happened with the two bills that gained the most traction — HB 81, Chairman Joe Moody’s bill to reduce penalties for low-level possession to a civil fine and HB 2107, Rep. Eddie Lucio III’s bill to make the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive:

HB 81, Chairman Joe Moody’s bill to reduce penalties for low-level possession, was advanced by the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on April 3 with a vote of 4-2. Unfortunately, Chairman Todd Hunter and the Calendars Committee declined to schedule the bill for a vote until the very last day possible, giving it little chance of making the deadline.

HB 2107, Rep. Eddie Lucio III’s bill to make the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive, earned the support of a majority of the Texas House of Representatives, with 77 Democrats and Republicans signing on as co-authors. This happened after an outstanding hearing where the committee heard testimony from witnesses ranging from mothers of sick children to a retired judge sharing the story of a family in his neighborhood that is illegally healing a toddler living with terminal disabilities. In spite of his own opposition to the bill, Chairman Four Price demonstrated exemplary character by bringing the bill up for a vote, which resulted in its passage with a supportive vote of 7-2 by the committee members.

Regrettably, the bill made it to the Calendars Committee just 1.5 hours too late, keeping it from being scheduled for a vote in the Texas House where it would have surely passed, thanks to the 77/150 co-authors of the bill.

While there certainly is cause for us to be disappointed, lawmakers and advocates alike worked hard this session and brought about unprecedented progress. Our work continues until session ends and then during the 18-month interim.

We won’t let up the pressure until Texas has an inclusive medical cannabis law and stops criminalizing marijuana consumers! We hope you won’t either.

Onward!

Texas Action Alert: HB 81 is scheduled for a vote — deadline for passage is midnight!

Call your representative now in support of HB 81!

Chairman Joe Moody’s House Bill 81 has been co-authored 40 representatives, both Democrat and Republican, from across the state. It’s scheduled for a vote late tonight, so your representative needs to hear from you now!

Please make a moment to make the call. Then, send a quick email to reiterate your support for this important legislation.

If passed, HB 81 could protect as many at 70,000 Texans (annually) from being arrested and prosecuted for low-level marijuana possession. Not only does it remove the threat of arrest and jail time, the bill also ensures a path for individuals to avoid a criminal record and the collateral consequences that come along with it.

The Legislature is embarrassingly behind on their agenda. If HB 81 is put forward for a vote, it will be very late tonight. The deadline for passage is midnight. You can watch the proceedings here.

Please call and then email your representative in support of House Bill 81!

HB 81 scheduled for vote by the Texas House — here’s how you can help!

Call your representative in support of sensible marijuana policy in Texas!

In the nick of time, Chairman Joe Moody’s House Bill 81 has been added to the agenda for consideration by the Texas House of Representatives tomorrow, Thursday, May 11. If passed, this legislation will eliminate the threat of arrest, jail time, and criminal record for first-, second-, and third-offense possession of small amounts of marijuana. (Thereafter, the penalty becomes a Class C Misdemeanor with an automatic opportunity for deferral and no jail.)

HB 81 will preserve valuable criminal justice resources and establish a more sensible policy for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. Call your representative now to share your support for this important legislation. (If you can’t call, send an email easily here.)

Texas arrests more than 60,000 people annually for the simple possession of marijuana, a substance that is safer than alcohol and tobacco.

This waste of resources can no longer be tolerated; call your representative today! Then, share this email with like-minded friends and family members.

Finally, please consider supporting our ongoing efforts in Texas with a contribution today.

Thank you for your great work to bring us to this historic moment. Let’s pass this bill!

Medical cannabis has unprecedented support in the Texas House. Now what?

Last Tuesday night, the Public Health committee considered public testimony in support of HB 2107 until nearly 2 a.m. Patients, including military veterans, caregivers, and medical professionals shared their stories and experiences with an attentive and thoughtful committee. The next day, the legislation gained significant traction, jumping from five to over 70 representatives signing on as either joint or co-authors. (Currently 77 co-authors.)

On Friday, the Public Health Committee who voted to advance HB 2107 with an historic vote of 7-2!

Now, the bill is in the hands of the Calendars Committee, which will decide if it gets a vote before the entire House of Representatives!

If passed into law, this bill will make the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive for patients with debilitating medical conditions. With bipartisan support, we are seeing unprecedented support for medical cannabis in the Texas House.

Here’s how you can help:

1) Contact your representative to express your support for safe and legal patient access to medical cannabis. Emails, calls, Tweets, and Facebook messages with them tagged are all great ways to politely ask for their support.

Email your representative easily here.
Find your representative’s phone number and a sample message here.

2) Email the Calendars Committee and ask them to add HB 2107 to the agenda for a vote. You can email them all easily here.

3) Share this page with your friends and family who support medical cannabis in Texas!