UPDATED: Cannabis, Texas: How Close Are We to Legalization in the Lone Star State?

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Photo by it was 3 a.m. via flickr


Update:
Sito Negron, communications director for Senator Jose Rodriguez contacted us to say that while Rodriguez has advocated for a review of our marijuana policies, he never has advocated for its use.
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The buzz about cannabis reform is still going strong, well after the very first recreational pot shops in Colorado opened their doors to long lines and sellout crowds. Folks are excited about the impending change, and rightfully so. Marijuana has cleared some major milestones, jumping in some states from outlawed to outright legal, and taking baby-steps toward reform in others.

We all know where Colorado and Washington are on the marijuana reform scale; they're all for legal pot, and it certainly seems to be popular in their respective states. And when you dig through the all of media hype over the success in Colorado, there are signs of political movement toward in other states as well.

But that begs the question; where Texas is at in all of this legalization hubbub? Are we any closer to a rational policy on cannabis use, or will we drag our conservative feet until the other 49 states have come around?

Well, we've got a few of those answers for you in our Cannabis, Texas roundup. Here are the milestones Texas has made in the fight for legalization and decriminalization over the past year. And yes, there's a nod to Kinky Friedman. We like him too.

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Photo by dannybirchall via flickr
Texas politicians across party lines voiced their support of the legalization movement.
Highlights of the 2013 political movement:
Texas rep Steve Stockman signed in support of the Respect State Marijuana Laws act, a federal bill that would respect state cannabis laws, much to the surprise of just about everybody, considering his staunchly conservative track record.

Senator Jose Rodriguez of El Paso hosted the Border Legislative Conference, which aims to educate lawmakers in Mexico and Texas about the upside of legalization. Rodriguez also became the first of the 31 Texas State Senators to voice his support of the cannabis reform movement, which is super awesome. Rodriguez also invited Texas NORML director Cheyanne Weldon to speak on the marijuana legislation and marijuana initiatives during the conference. Who knew El Paso could be so progressive, eh?

Marijuana advocate and Texas legend Kinky Friedman announced his candidacy for Agriculture Commissioner, and noted that cannabis and hemp legalization would be a major priority within his campaign. Not nearly as surprising, but just as awesome. Why the hell not?

Oh, and the Texas Libertarian Party and the League of Women Voters of Texas proudly stated their support for the legalization movement.

There are also a growing number of Texas politicians that support the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana in our great state. Here are the folks who have been working their political tails off to advocate for marijuana use policy reform:
Congressman Beto O'Rourke
Senator Jose Rodriguez
Senator Steve Stockman
Rep. Harold Dutton, Jr
Rep. Elliot Naishtat
Former State Rep. Miriam Martinez
Former State Rep. Terry Keel
And, of course, the always loveable Kinky Friedman


Two cannabis bills were brought in front of the Texas Lege in 2013. Neither were passed, but more consideration was given to them than in the years past.
HB 184, a bill that was reintroduced by Rep. Harold Dutton, aimed to amend the harsh penalties for possessing marijuana. The bill would have reduced the penalties up to 1 ounce from a Class B misdemeanor, in which you can face 180 days of jail time and a whopping $2,000 fine, to a Class C misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $500 and no jail time. The bill was not voted to calendar for a debate by the full House, unfortunately, which left it dead in the water.

HB 594, a bill reintroduced by Elliot Naishtat, who has been essential in introducing this bill in one form or another over the years, would have changed quite a bit for medical marijuana use in Texas. It is currently illegal for doctors in Texas to discuss the potentials of cannabis use as a medical treatment with their patients, and if they do, they risk losing their medical licenses. HB 594 would have kept that from happening, and also would have allowed patients to present a medical defense -- with physician recommendation, of course -- when facing criminal charges for cannabis possession. Ultimately, the bill wasn't voted on.


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31 comments
Venessa Singh
Venessa Singh

Yes please.. Take out the awkwardness of meeting a sketchy dealer

Shawn K. Quinn
Shawn K. Quinn

Pot never should have been illegal here to begin with.

Pete Nuñez
Pete Nuñez

More tax revenue, less jail/prison time, more jobs, less drunk driving, more happy people. Fckn do it!

Lila Quintero
Lila Quintero

Make pot legal. See Jane smoke pot. See Jane's boss drug test Jane. See Jane get fired for smoking pot. :/

Raulitoway Valdes
Raulitoway Valdes

Perry won't ever let that happen. If we want this to happen we need to pay attention to voting the right judges, chief officer, mayors, city council officials, state officials and of course the governer. Excuse my misspelling grammar nazi.

Mary Walker
Mary Walker

All four candidates for Lt. Governor at the debate last night said they were staunchly against decriminalizing marijuana. If you truly want this to happen- you should know who you are voting for.

David Weiss Jr.
David Weiss Jr.

not yes but HELL YES!! i say criminalize alcohol and make pot legal!!!

kyradebbie2
kyradebbie2

"Hemp physically resembles…" a flowering hibiscus stalk, just with different flowers.

cheyanne1973
cheyanne1973

I see why you removed the word use in this instance "Here are the folks who have been working their political tails off to advocate for marijuana use policy reform:"


I've spoken with Senator Rodriguez and heard him speak on this issue, he has clarified that he is not promoting use, but I don't think this statement refers to use, it's about reforming laws, which he is absolutely supporting: "Rodriguez also became the first of the 31 Texas State Senators to voice his support of the cannabis reform movement, which is super awesome."


Thanks for the great review!

Sterling Meeks
Sterling Meeks

Maybe you should stop eating out your mum so you could read & think clearly.

Sterling Meeks
Sterling Meeks

You haven't been paying much attention to what has been transpiring here in the Mile High or in WA state, have ya? Who do you think is cashing in big time courtesy of legalization in these states? Silly DWEEB.

Jose Martinez
Jose Martinez

Think all the money folks in high places will lose with legalization. No more cuts or looking the other way for shipments coming in. Yup well be the last state fo sho!

Jimmy Jeudi
Jimmy Jeudi

I thought it read cannibalism for a moment haha

okeenans
okeenans

I am a T12 burst fracture w/T.B.I. Traumatic Brain injury . Back on so many highly addictive legal drugs with ups an downs. soon after me accident when I was able to think for me self. a friend ofmine in Cali. said there were a lot of people benefitting from this plant without pills

ssoso hhehe sent me some specific seed strains for me conditions I started growing me own meds for more than 10 years without taking pills

this plant heals not kills with no side effects why cant we practice FREEDOM OF CHOICE which me for father's have fought for since the beginning of time. I AM TEXANS FOR MEDICINAL CANNABIS ACCESS ON FACEBOOK please join an let's end marijuana prohibition.  its mother nature's best medicine we've outlawed  an people are dying. please show compassion an free the leaf,Blessings One love


 

dennis0865
dennis0865

Also I would like to add that the drug(GABAPENTIN) that is prescribed for M.S....... specifically (chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy) are very toxic to the human body. Also these drugs have a tremendous potential for creating suicidal episodes due to the mental side effects. So I fry my liver and wait until I lose it and hang myself again out of despair or I just keep on deteriorating in a most painful manner. I hope all you compassionate conservatives can remember to help some of us who ARE in pain are going to jail for relieving our pain while you are letting the little rich kids get away with murder and inflict pain. Texas , I've been a faithful son for nearly fifty years and you always let me down.

dennis0865
dennis0865

What's so surprising to me is that the political party of "Big Gov.t stay away from my personal affairs and business" are so eager to be the first ones to impose their values and morals upon another person by authority of law over a personal choice. Especially considering that the entire ban on the substance is/was based on pure lies and misinformation. The result has been yet another bloody prohibition against the constitutional rights of freeborn consenting adults to do as they wish in their own homes even though there is no harm to the public for this activity. I have M.S. I would love to be able to just sit in the breeze on the porch and relax w/ whatever life  I have left. However it seems that the evil religious proselytizers are hell bent to force every one to choose between consuming a harmless natural herbal remedy or the synthetic poison that the pill pushers are peddling that is killing people left and right. Some how these people are still hypnotized to believe that prescription drugs are harmless and natural drugs are killers.

Puller58
Puller58

What should be a factor is the prospect for helping take some of the wind out of the sails of the drug cartels in Mexico.  If you can take the profitability out of pot smuggling, perhaps that might make a difference.

tenmen
tenmen

there are just to many rich, homophobic, racist, right wing Christians  in Texas to ever get legalization on a ballot. I am still in awe that we have liquor by the drink and lotto. The legislature is controlled by their money as well as those large corporations seeking a tax free environment to work in. NULLIFICATION is our best option, if you are chosen for a jury of possession then just say  NOT GUILTY!!  Famous words from the first Supreme Court Justice, John Jay.

Anse
Anse

It will be interesting to see how the business community stands on this issue. It's well-known that the oil and gas industry has occasionally faced problems with hiring due to the failure rate of the standard pre-employment drug screen. With the Eagle Ford booming and the importance of this industry to the Texas economy, will they have any negative influence on the legalization movement? And when will the private sector as a whole get wise and stop screening for marijuana as a condition of employment? 

cheyanne1973
cheyanne1973

No one is being arrested or having their children taken away for gambling, no one is being denied a natural substance for treating illness because there aren't casinos... they are completely different arguments and reasons for changing laws. It's not just a freedom to do something that people want to do (like gambling) it's harm reduction for negative consequences affecting Texans (unlike gambling).

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