We worked with our friends at Texas NORML to survey candidates seeking your vote to serve in the Texas House, Texas Senate, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate. In our Texas Marijuana Policy Voter Guide, you’ll find candidate responses to our survey as well as voting records for incumbents.
There’s still time to volunteer to help candidates who support your views. Contact them via email, social media, and/or their websites. You can sign up to do block walking, phone banking, or work a polling location. These are free ways to support those who support reform!
Early Voting is from October 13-30 and Election Day is November 3, 2020!
This event, which will be streamed online on Nov. 20-21, will feature conversations on marijuana legalization, statewide decriminalization, expanded access to medical cannabis, and the thriving hemp market in Texas.
We’ve already confirmed several state legislators, including Chairman James White and Senator Nathan Johnson. Lisa Pittman, Industrial Hemp Advisory Council Member for the Texas Department of Agriculture, has also confirmed her participation! Their experience will offer us great insight and perspective.
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We’re excited to announce that we are moving forward with our third annual Texas Marijuana Policy Conference! For a safe and inclusive event, this conference will be hosted online.
Our goal is to elevate the conversation about marijuana law reform in advance of the 87th Legislative Session!
Featured speakers will include policymakers, advocates, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs. We’ll discuss the political climate in Texas, opportunities for reform in 2021, the evolution of the cannabis industry in our state, and best practices from around the country.
One of our first confirmed speakers is Representative James White, chairman of the Texas House Corrections Committee!
Chairman White, a conservative from east Texas, was a joint author of the decriminalization bill and co-author of the medical cannabis bill, both of which passed the House last session. Additionally, he was a co-sponsor of the bill to legalize hemp. Chairman White is an ally and a very important supporter of reform. We are honored to have him join us for TMPC20!
This Monday, we’re hosting a FREE Virtual Advocacy Workshop. Join us to learn more about the political process and timeline, including elections, the upcoming legislative session, and how to effectively communicate with your legislators. Click here to register.
Two more exciting opportunities are being hosted by our friends with the Foundation for an Informed Texas (FIT) and Texas Veterans for Medical Marijuana: Texas Veterans Cannabis Conference (Oct. 17) and a Texas Patient Study on Medical Cannabisto help provide accurate data about medical cannabis and patient needs. FIT will share this important data with legislators. Other News/Updates: The Department of State Health Services WILL NOT be able to enforce their recently adopted rule banning smokable hemp. A Temporary Injunction will be in place until the lawsuit is considered by the court in February 2021. Read more here.
In spite of local diversion and first-time offender programs in nearly every major city, more than 45,000 Texans were arrested for possession in 2019. Dallas recently reported that 90% of those arrested were black and hispanic, demonstrating precisely why we need a statewide policy eliminating the threat of arrest and jail time for marijuana possession. Contact your state legislators.
Congress was set to consider the MORE Act this month. In spite of record-high support from the American people, Democrats in the House recently announced that they are postponing the vote until after the election. More here.
The San Antonio Police Department recently released a full report on their Cite and Release program, which began on July 1, 2019. According to SAPD:
This program authorizes SAPD Officers to issue citations in lieu of custodial arrest in certain Class A or B misdemeanor offenses…SAPD amended existing departmental policy and expanded officer discretion to support the enhanced cite and release opportunities.
The program signaled progress and San Antonio’s willingness to consider an alternative to arrests for simple marijuana possession. It’s saved more than 2,700 hours of officer time and we saw a 35% reduction in the number of arrests for small amounts of marijuana. This is good.
Sadly, though, most people are still being arrested: 64% of those who were detained for possession of small amounts of marijuana were still taken to jail. And each person who was cited or arrested will face the full brunt of the state law when they get to court (up to six months in jail and $2,000 in fines) . According to estimates from the Department of Public Safety, 66% of those charged will be convicted, leading to a permanent criminal record and a lifetime of collateral consequences.
Collateral consequences include automatic drivers license suspension, hindered access to education, limited employment opportunities, and even safe housing can be difficult for those convicted of marijuana possession.
This report illustrates our serious need for statewide reform to decriminalize marijuana. Meaningful changes to our state law would eliminate the threat of arrest, jail time, and (most importantly) the criminal record associated with even small amounts of marijuana.
Update from Ritter Spencer, the firm heading up this lawsuit:
“The District Court has entered an order [yesterday] extending the temporary restraining order enjoining DSHS from enforcement of its ban against smokable hemp in Texas until the hearing on our application for temporary injunctive relief on September 14, 2020.”
Bottom line: if a business was legally selling smokable hemp products before August 1, when the new (and unlawful, IMO) regulations went into effect, they may continue doing so until at least Sept. 14. Stay tuned for updates!
(See below for more information about the lawsuit, restraining order, and backstory.)
Today in Travis County, Judge Lora Livingston granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), protecting hemp businesses that sell smokable hemp products in Texas.
Last year, the Texas Legislature authorized the cultivation, manufacturing, and sale of hemp and hemp products. While the law restricts in-state manufacturing of smokable hemp products, it does not restrict the in-state sale of these products. An arbitrary restriction put in place by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) on August 1 oversteps the department’s rule-making authority, banning the sale of a product that is completely legal for Texans to possess and consume.
This TRO maintains the law as it was before DSHS instituted their unlawful regulation, protects Texas business owners, and gives time for attorneys to prepare for a Temporary Injunction hearing on September 2.
“No enforcement of the new rule.” – Judge Livingston
When this unlawful rule was originally proposed last fall, we mobilized the grassroots, generating hundreds of public comments during the rule-making process. Here’s some of the backstory.
Note: It has been clarified that this ban would not prohibit the sale of loose hemp flower as long as it’s not marketed for smoking. It would ban hemp flower pre-rolls and CBD vape cartridges.
Stay tuned for updates as legal proceedings continue.
In July, there will be dozens of Primary Runoff Election around the state because, in those districts, no candidate received more than 50% of the vote in the March Primaries. The two candidates with the highest number of votes face off in the Primary Runoff Election to see who will represent their party on the ballot in November.
We surveyed the candidates to find out where they stand on marijuana policy, including voting records for incumbents. With this information, you can vote for candidates who share your values. Here is how you can prepare:
Review the Texas Marijuana Policy Voter Guide for Republican and Democratic candidate responses. (Libertarians have a separate process.) Reminder: If you voted in one party’s Primary in March, you can only vote in that party’s runoff. Switching parties at this time would violate election law. So stick with your party for the runoff.
Early Voting Starts: Monday, June 29th, 2020 | Election Day: Tuesday, July 14th, 2020. Learn about voting locations, what you need to vote and more HERE.
Texans must rely on our state elected officials, specifically our state representatives and state senators (so take a close look at yours). Learn more about engaging with your legislators by reviewing the Texas NORML Activist Training Guide.
Texas NORML originated the first cannabis centric voter guide in 2012. We’ve teamed up to expand the program with support from our broad coalition of organizations, activists, and community leaders dedicated to realizing effective, efficient, and evidence-based marijuana policies in Texas. We will also offer a General Election edition.
Participating in elections is a critical part of setting ourselves up for success when the Texas Legislature convenes in January. In addition to voting, please consider reaching out to the candidates to share your position on marijuana policy.
Make sure they know you and understand why this is such an important issue!