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Texas: Tell your legislators that you support replacing criminal charges for marijuana possession with civil fines

Texas: Tell your legislators to support a more inclusive medical marijuana program


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Fill out our Get Involved Form to let us know how else you might be willing to help replace our state’s destructive and wasteful marijuana prohibition laws with responsible policies.

 

Ask Your Organization to Endorse:

Community organizations, criminal justice reform advocates, civil rights groups, businesses, and faith-based groups all have an interest in taking marijuana off of the criminal market. Why not raise the issue with any group you belong to? Email us at [email protected] or call us at 512-380-1409 to let us know if you’re interested in working on an endorsement.

 

Write A Letter to the Editor

Here are some talking points to help you craft a letter-to-the-editor to your local newspaper:

Tips

– Letters are far more likely to be published if they respond directly either to breaking news or an article or commentary that was recently published. Sign up for our mailing list and follow us on Twitter to stay updated on marijuana policy news in Texas!

– Focus on one important point. Don’t try to address separate issues in one letter.

– Eliminate any non-essential words, such as “I think …” This will maximize your chance of being published.

– Be polite and concise. Never insult your audience. Check the word limit at the paper to which you are submitting the letter to make sure it’s not too long, and try to keep all letters under 250 words.

– Create immediacy by indicating how readers will be affected by the issue you address when possible. Ask readers to take action whenever possible.

Talking Points – Imposing A Civil Fine for Possession

  • According to the Unified Crime Report, in 2012 there were over 70,000 arrests for marijuana possession in Texas, more than any other state. Meanwhile, the state clearance rate for reported rape cases was only 44% and nearly 70% of robbery cases went unsolved.
  • A criminal penalty accompanying a conviction for possession of a small amount of marijuana can lead to a lifetime of harsh consequences. A conviction can result in denial of student financial aid and government housing benefits, employment, and professional licenses. Although more than 105 million adults have used marijuana, the unequal enforcement means these harsh collateral consequences disproportionately affect minorities.
  • African Americans are 2.3 times more likely that whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite similar rates of usage.
  • In Texas, ninety-seven percent of all marijuana-related arrests are for possession — not manufacture or distribution. Imposing criminal penalties and jail time on those who possess small amounts of marijuana forces law enforcement to spend valuable time on arresting, processing, and prosecuting non-violent offenders. This time would be better spent going after violent criminals.

 

Talking Points – Medical Marijuana

  • Every year, hundreds of thousands of Texans are diagnosed with serious and debilitating conditions – such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), and seizure disorders. Thousands of Texas’ 1.6 veterans are living with PTSD as a result of their time spent serving their country. The suffering of these patients is devastating or them and their families.
  • For some seriously ill patients, currently available medications are not effective, and many of the treatments currently prescribed cause devastating side effects. Patients need the freedom to use the treatment that is right for them and physicians must be free to recommend the best treatment for their patients without government interference.
  • Research supports the effectiveness of medical marijuana. There is extensive research indicting the effectiveness of medical marijuana in treating a range of conditions such as wasting, muscle spasticity, and chronic pain.
  • Medical marijuana is a state’s prerogative. Legalizing medical marijuana will create growth and job opportunities in Texas in addition to providing relief to thousands of patients. Reducing government interference in the medical field and creating a market for medical marijuana is a state’s prerogative.
  • Texas voters support allowing access to medical marijuana. A 2013 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling found that 58% of Texans support allowing access to medical marijuana. A 2013 national poll by Fox News found that 85% of Americans supported medical marijuana.
  • Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C. currently allow patients legal access to medical marijuana. Several other states are currently considering legislation to allow access to medical marijuana.
  • For some patients for whom currently available medications are not effective, medical marijuana may provide relief from suffering and improve quality of life. It’s time for Texans to ensure medical freedom for seriously ill patients to access the best treatment for their care, including medical marijuana.
  • Texas Nurses Association: “TNA believes alternative therapies and complementary modalities may be appropriate interventions to meet patient needs. Such therapies and modalities include the use of marijuana in appropriate medical situations such as helping patients manage chronic pain. Patients should have access to marijuana for such use and practitioners should have the right to counsel patients about the use of marijuana in a appropriate medical situations.

Talking Points – Taking Marijuana off the Criminal Market

  • Marijuana prohibition has failed. Today, over 106 million Americans admit to having tried marijuana, and over 17.4 million say they have used it in the past month. [Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2010]
  • Marijuana prohibition has been just as ineffective, inefficient, and problematic as alcohol prohibition was in the 1920s and 1930s. Most Americans agree it is time to replace this failed policy with a more sensible approach. [Source: Gallup poll in October 2013 found 58% support for making marijuana legal for adults.]
  • A majority of Texans agree it is time to replace marijuana prohibition with a system of reasonable regulation, legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and over. [Source: In October of 2013, Public Policy Polling found that 58% of Texans support for making marijuana legal for adults.]
  • Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol. It is less toxic, less addictive, and less harmful to the body, and it does not contribute to violent and reckless behavior. Adults should not be punished for choosing to use the safer substance. [Source: See http://www.MarijuanaIsSafer.org]
  • By treating marijuana like alcohol, we can take sales out of the hands of drug cartels in the underground criminal market and put them behind the counters of state-licensed businesses that are creating jobs and paying taxes.
  • Law enforcement officials’ time and resources could be better spent addressing violent and otherwise serious crimes instead of arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana. For example, in Houston alone, over 15,000 burglaries, with viable leads, went un-investigated in 2013. During that same time period, over 74,000 arrests for possession of marijuana occurred in Texas. Clearly, our tax dollars and our law enforcement priorities need to be redirected.

 

Grassroots Action for Legislative Reform