Today: A House vote on HB 63! (Secure the vote: Contact your representative!)

It’s going to be another exciting week at the Capitol!

Today in Austin, the Texas House of Representatives is set to debate and vote on Rep. Joe Moody’s bill to reduce penalties for marijuana possession. House Bill 63 eliminates the threat of arrest and jail time for up to one ounce of marijuana. It also provides for an automatic deferral and expungement, helping people avoid a criminal record and the lasting collateral consequences of a conviction.

Make sure your representative knows you support HB 63!
— SEND AN EMAIL NOW —

The House convenes at 10am, but there’s no way to know exactly when HB 63 will be considered. You can join us at the Capitol to experience this big moment in person, or tune in to the live stream from home. Follow this Facebook event page for updates, including a link to the live stream as soon as the debate begins.

CALL to Action: Please call your representative’s office in addition to using the link above to send an email. Find their phone number here and tell them you’re “a constituent calling in support of HB 63, which is being voted on today.”

Let’s flood the Capitol with support of marijuana law reform!

Happening Wednesday: Direct Action at the Capitol. We’ll be visiting legislative offices in support of medical marijuana. HB 1365 is in with the Calendars Committee, awaiting being scheduled for a vote in the House. Join us at 11am in the library. First timers welcome. Materials will be provided and we’ll split into teams

Has your representative co-authored the Rep. Lucio’s HB 1365? If not, please ask him/her to do so with a quick email.

Please share these actions with supportive friends and family members. Thank you for being a part of this movement for marijuana law reform in Texas!

Texas: HB 63 to Reduces Penalties for Marijuana Possession

Rep. Joe Moody’s House Bill 63!
No arrest, no jail time, and an opportunity to avoid a criminal record for one ounce of marijuana or less.

HB 63 — Policy Overview:

  • Possession of an ounce or less of marijuana would be a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $500, but no jail or drivers license suspension.
  • Upon payment of fine and plea of no contentre (or guilty), a case will be automatically deferred once a year, allowing the individual to avoid a criminal record if the judge’s orders are followed (completing community service and/or drug education course).
  • Dismissed cases would not generate a criminal record, which can follow a person for life and jeopardize employment prospects, housing, and educational opportunities.

Texas arrests more than 60,000 people annually for simple marijuana possession. This bill will ensure a better use of public safety resources and will keep people in school, in the workforce, and with their families.

Contact your senator in support of HB 63!

1) Send an email here: https://bit.ly/2WgBeNU
2) Find their phone number here: https://wrm.capitol.texas.gov/home

“Hello, my name is _______ and I am a constituent. I’m calling in support of Rep. Moody’s House Bill 63, a bill that will save valuable public safety resources by putting a stop to jailing people for small amounts of marijuana. The bill will also help people avoid a criminal record, allowing them to stay in school or the workforce. Please ask my senator to support Hb 63.”

View the bill here.

ACTION ALERT: Call your representative in support of HB 63!

​It’s true. For the first time since the 70’s, penalty reduction for marijuana possession will be voted on by the Texas House of Representatives!

Rep. Joe Moody’s House Bill 63​​ is one of our priorities policies and it has been scheduled for a vote TODAY. If passed, this bill would reduce penalties for low-level marijuana possession and free up valuable criminal justice resources by eliminating the arrest and jail time currently associated with even small amounts of marijuana​. Plus, people would be able to avoid the lasting collateral consequences that come along with a conviction. Instead, they’d simply pay a fine.

​Please take a moment to call your representative today! Ask them to support HB 63 when it’s up for a vote on the House floor.

1) Find their Capitol office phone number here: https://wrm.capitol.texas.gov/home​.

2) Then, make the call! Here’s what to say:

“Hello, my name is _______ and I am a constituent. I’m calling in support of Rep. Moody’s House Bill 63, which will save valuable public safety resources by putting a stop to jailing people for small amounts of marijuana. The bill will also help people avoid a criminal record, allowing them to stay in school or the workforce. Please ask my representative to support HB 63 when it’s up for a vote later today.”

ADDITIONAL ACTION: Email your representative in support of the bill.

Please share this action alert with your friends, family, and neighbors. We need to flood the Capitol with calls today and tomorrow!

TxMJPolicy Update: Hemp Passes House and Decriminalization Scheduled for Vote on Thursday!

Big News from the Texas Capitol!

INDUSTRIAL HEMP: Without any objection, the Texas House approved HB 1325 today, a bill to legalize in-state hemp production and sales! If passed into law, this legislation clears up the legal gray area surrounding hemp products, including CBD.

DECRIMINALIZATION: Rep. Joe Moody’s HB 63 has been scheduled for a vote in the Texas House on Thursday! This bill reduces penalties for low-level marijuana possession and will free up valuable criminal justice resources by eliminating the arrest, jail time, and collateral consequences currently associated with even small amounts of marijuana.

TAKE ACTION!

Please take a moment to ask your representative to support HB 63 when it’s up for a vote this Thursday, April 25.

Step 1: Identify your representative and their Capitol office phone number: https://wrm.capitol.texas.gov/home

Step 2: Ask them to support HB 63. Send a quick email, then call their office. You can say something like this when you call:

“Hello, my name is _______ and I am a constituent. I’m calling in support of Rep. Moody’s House Bill 63, a bill that will save valuable public safety resources by putting a stop to jailing people for small amounts of marijuana. The bill will also help people avoid a criminal record, allowing them to stay in school or the workforce. Please ask my representative to support Hb 63.”

Step 3: Share this action alert with your supportive friends, family, and neighbors!

We’re more than 80% of the way toward meeting our goal and need your help today. Please contribute toward marijuana law reform! 

Texas Health Committee Advances Medical Marijuana Bill!

Today at the Capitol, the Public Health Committee approved Rep. Lucio III’s HB 1365, which expands medical access to cannabis. The bill was amended and passed with unanimous support from committee members!

Take Action — Texas Two-Step! 
Time is tight to move bills forward, so we need you to take action today — Call your representative!

  1. Identify your representative and their Capitol office phone number.
  2. Call your Texas State Representative to ask that they join 54 other legislators by becoming a co-author for this important legislation and remind them to vote YES for HB 1365 when it’s up for a vote on the House floor. (Leave a message if necessary.)

Here is a script you can use:

Hello, my name is ___ and I am a constituent. I would like to request that my representative become a co-author for Representative Lucio’s HB 1365 and vote yes for the bill once it is considered on the House Floor.

Please note that the following legislators have already co-authored this legislation. If your representative is on this list, please call to thank them!

__________________________________________________

Rep. Lucio’s bill was amended by the committee in several ways, including the establishment of a cannabis therapeutic research review board, adding an important in-state research program, and requiring participating doctors to be educated on medical cannabis. The bill also offers ample patient protections, including parental rights and protection for students who need to use cannabis at school.

Unfortunately, a few of the key changes we wanted to see have been removed. In order to participate, physicians are still required to “prescribe” cannabis. In an attempt to protect doctors, the bill does define “prescription” in a way that offers some state-level protection. Another change maintains the low cap (.5%) on THC. However, the review board will have the authority and duty to “determine the formulations and dosages, including ratios of cannabinoids, that are medically appropriate for patients with particular debilitating medical conditions.” This means we can work with the review board to increase THC levels/ratios, rather than having to pass a law to do so.

What comes next?

  1. Once the bill is reported the Calendars Committee, it’ll be scheduled for debate and a vote by the House of Representatives. Call your representative now using the instructions above.
  2. Ask your Texas State Senator to support SB 90! Texas patients need safe access to medical marijuana.
  3. Did you miss our big lobby day in February? Here is your second chance to participate. Join us on April 23rd to lobby for sensible marijuana policy at the Texas State Capitol!
  4. We’re more than halfway to our crowdfunding goal. Will you pitch toward our efforts at the Capitol? (Thank you!)
  5. Join us for Direct Actions at the Capitol on Wednesday, April 24th and Wednesday, May 1st. We will be distributing information to all of the legislative offices.

The passage of HB 1365 is a positive step forward, but there is still a lot of work to do. We will need all hands-on deck over the next week, so stay tuned for our action alerts!

Texas Medical Marijuana Hearing Recap

For the first time, a Texas House subcommittee has been established to consider medical marijuana legislation. Today at the Capitol, ten different medical marijuana bills were considered and committee members heard from hundreds witnesses in support of the proposals to expand access to the Texas Compassionate Use Program. No one (not even law enforcement) testified against these bills. (Watch here: Public Health – S/C Medical Marijuana – Part I & II.)

The committee heard testimony from patients, caregivers, veterans, and medical professionals. Heartfelt stories were shared and committee members asked thoughtful questions, allowing for a very meaningful discussion on this important issue.

Measuring by the number of witnesses signing up in support of the bill (150+), Rep. Lucio’s HB 1365 is the frontrunner! This bill makes the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive by adding to the list of qualifying conditions and removing the arbitrary cap on THC, a very therapeutic component of the cannabis plant.

Next steps? One or more medical marijuana bills will be recommended to the whole Public Health Committee, then considered and voted on.

How can you help?

1) Contact your legislators in support of medical cannabis.
2) Donate toward our work at the Capitol.

Opportunities for Action in Austin

Direct Action at the Capitol – Wednesday, April 17 at 11am
Working in teams, we’ll be delivering fliers to every legislative office in the Capitol. This week’s flier is dedicated to supporting medical marijuana, which will be having a big hearing the following day. First time advocates are welcome to join us. Details available here.

Second Chance TxMJPolicy Lobby Day – Tuesday, April 23 at the Texas Capitol
If you missed our big lobby day in February or simply want to hit the halls with us again, this second chance lobby day offers the opportunity to visit your legislators’ offices in support of marijuana law reform. Details coming soon — for now, mark your calendar!

Let’s keep up the pressure, y’all!

Texas: HB 1365 (Medical Cannabis) Schedule for a Hearing!

All medical cannabis bills in the House are scheduled for a hearing this Thursday, April 11.

For the first time, the Public Health Committee has designated a medical cannabis specific subcommittee.  All seven medical cannabis bills in the House have been referred to this subcommittee and will have a hearing on Thursday, April 11, including our priority bill, HB 1365.

Texas Public Health, Medical Marijuana Subcommittee
Thursday, April 11 at 8am
Room E2.012 | Maps
Parking Info

Rep. Lucio’s HB 1365 will make the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive for those with debilitating medical conditions. The bill also fixes some of the flaws in the original legislation by protecting doctors and ensuring consumer protection through independent, third party testing.

There are several ways you can show your support:

  • Email your legislators right now.
  • Sign up in support of the bill at the Capitol on Thursday. (Instructions and a video demo.)
    **When visiting the Capitol, please always dress professionally.**
  • Submit testimony to share your personal or professional experience. Testimony can be provided several ways: written and submitted via email, written/printed (12 copies) and submitted in person on the day of the hearing, or verbally to the committee (3 minute limit).

Can’t make it to Austin? Contact your legislators now and follow this Facebook event for live updates, including a link to the live stream.

Texas Marijuana Policy Update – 7 Weeks Left in Session!

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is a nonprofit advocacy organization working with a broad political coalition to advance sensible marijuana law reform in Texas.

Medical Marijuana

All medical cannabis bills in the House are scheduled for a hearing this Thursday, April 11. For the first time, the Public Health Committee has designated a medical cannabis specific subcommittee. There are several ways you can show your support:

  • Email your legislators to express your support.
  • Sign up in support of the bill at the Capitol on Thursday. (Instructions and a video demo.)
    **When visiting the Capitol, please always dress professionally.**
  • Submit testimony to share your personal or professional experience. Testimony can be provided several ways: written and submitted via email, written/printed (12 copies) and submitted in person on the day of the hearing, or verbally to the committee (3 minute limit).

Can’t make it to Austin? Contact your legislators now and follow this Facebook event for live updates, including a link to the live stream.

We’re 70% of the way to our fundraising goal and closer than ever before to bringing meaningful marijuana law reform to Texas! Will you pitch in toward our efforts in Austin?!

Marijuana Possession Penalty Reduction

Yesterday afternoon, Rep. Joe Moody’s HB 63 has been reported to the Calendars Committee and awaits scheduling for a debate and vote by the Texas House of Representatives. This bill reduces penalties for possession of up to 1oz. of marijuana, making it a civil penalty (fine only) for the first two offenses, then institutes a Class C Misdemeanor with an automatically deferred adjudication. (This will help people avoid a criminal record!) The proposal also eliminates the threat of arrest and jail time.

Rep. Harold Dutton’s HB 335, which makes up to two grams of marijuana a Class C Misdemeanor, passed out of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee yesterday by a vote of 7-2. Under this proposal, there’s no threat of a jail sentence, but a person will still be arrested and faces a permanent criminal record if convicted.

Upcoming Events

Direct Action at the Capitol – Wednesday, April 10 at 11am
Working in teams, we’ll be delivering fliers to every legislative office in the Capitol. This week’s flier is dedicated to supporting medical marijuana, which will be having a big hearing the following day. First time advocates are welcome to join us. Details available here.

Second Chance TxMJPolicy Lobby Day – Tuesday, April 23 at the Texas Capitol
If you missed our big lobby day in February or simply want to hit the halls with again, this second chance lobby day offers the opportunity to visit your legislators’ offices in support of marijuana law reform. Details coming soon — for now, mark your calendar!

Mark your Calendar: Texas Marijuana Policy Conference – August 2019
We’re hosting the 2nd Annual Texas Marijuana Policy Conference in Austin this summer! Mark your calendar and keep an eye out for early bird registration. Conference speakers and panel discussions will include politics and advocacy, patient/caregiver resources, and information about the cannabis industry for entrepreneurs. We’re now accepting speaker recommendations now!

Thank you for your continued support and encouragement. We’re getting close!

Please consider making a contribution toward our efforts at the Capitol and sign up for email notification/action alerts.

GREAT NEWS: HB 63 advances after favorable committee vote!

Rep. Joe Moody’s bill to reduce penalties for low-level marijuana possession has passed out of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee with a bipartisan vote of 5-2!

The bill was amended by the committee and now allows an individual to receive two civil penalties ($250 fine) before facing Class C Misdemeanor charges for subsequent offenses. Even after three or more charges, though, Rep. Moody’s bill institutes an automatic deferral, allowing the individual to avoid a permanent criminal record. This is a vast improvement from current law, which penalizes even small amounts with an arrest, up to 180 days in jail, up to $2,000 in fines, and a permanent criminal record.

Bottom line: if passed by the House and Senate, Texans would no longer face jail time or the collateral consequences that come along with a criminal drug conviction! Please ask your representative to co-author HB 63.

More TxMJPolicy Updates

* We’re more than halfway to our crowdfunding goal. Will you pitch toward our efforts at the Capitol? (Thank you!)

* Direct Action at the Capitol: Volunteers needed this Wednesday! We’ll be hitting the halls of the Capitol in support of HB 63. Join us! (Details.)

* Lt. Governor Dan Patrick says he’s not supportive of marijuana law reform. Sign our petition to ask him to reconsider his position, which is at odds with public opinion and the official position of his own political party. (Signature will be hand delivered later this week.)

* Educational Exhibit at the Capitol: April 1st! We’re hosting an educational exhibit to put forward all the good reasons Texas should reduce penalties for low-level marijuana possession. (Details.)

* The Texas Medical Association (TMA) has long supported a physician’s right to discuss marijuana use with patients. Recently, though, the powerful association went further, offering several recommendations about the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana, Cannabidiol, and Related Compounds. (More here.)

Thank you for your continued support of our work. Onward!

Texas Medical Association Lends Limited Support to Medical Cannabis Reform

The Texas Medical Association (TMA) has long supported a physician’s right to discuss marijuana use with patients. In 2013, the Texas Medical Association told KVUE News:

TMA policy supports the physician’s right to discuss with his or her patients any and all possible treatment options related to the patient’s health and clinical care (including the use of marijuana) without the threat to physician or patient of regulatory, disciplinary, or criminal sanctions.

Recently, though, the powerful association went further, offering several recommendations about the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana, Cannabidiol, and Related Compounds.
One of their four recommendations includes:
Remove current restrictions in state law that allow physicians to recommend cannabidiol (CBD) only for specific diseases. Given physicians’ first duty to “do no harm,” physicians need to be able to assess their patients’ conditions, the available treatments, and to discuss and make appropriate and evidence-based recommendations.
While this is far from an endorsement of medical cannabis in general, they are recognizing that the state should not have a set list of conditions dictating which patients can have access to CBD and, presumably, the Compassionate Use Program.

 

Something else of note is their use the term “recommend,” rather than “prescribe.” This is important because current Texas law requires doctors to “prescribe” cannabis, which puts them in jeopardy with the DEA. This flaw in our state law is likely to be the reason so few doctors have registered to participate (less than 55 in all of Texas).

Doctors cannot prescribe Schedule I drugs. In states with functional medical cannabis programs, doctors recommend cannabis and certify patients through the state. This is a formal process, but it’s not a “prescription.” (More info on this subject can be found here.)

TMA has a heavy influence at the Capitol. Their support of even modest reforms is significant in advancing legislation to make the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive.
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Photo Credit: Houston Chronicle.

 

Grassroots Action for Legislative Reform