Last Update: July 22, 2014
It's time for real change in the Lone Star State
Earlier this year, the Marijuana Policy Project announced the launch of a multi-year campaign in Texas to pass a trifecta of bills to improve marijuana policies. We will be working with a coalition of allies to: 1) establish a compassionate medical marijuana program; 2) replace criminal penalties for marijuana possession with a civil fine; and 3) to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and to tax and regulate it similarly to alcohol. We recently retained a political director as well as a contract lobbyist, who are now both dedicated to bringing positive change in Texas on behalf of these issues. If you have a story you would like to share with others about how medical cannabis has positively affected your life, or how marijuana prohibition policies have harmed you or others you know, please contact us. Additionally, if you would like to donate to the marijuana policy reform effort in Texas, please click here.
Both the current leadership and candidates for prominent political offices are increasingly calling for marijuana policy reform in the Lone Star State. On January 23, Gov. Rick Perry called for the state to move toward decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. On February 11, gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis took marijuana policy reform in Texas one step further and indicated her support not only for decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, but also for medical marijuana for seriously ill patients. And Michael Fjetland, Texas candidate for U.S. Senate, indicated his support for a taxed and regulated system similar to Colorado’s.
A poll commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project in Texas shows 61% of the voters support reducing penalties for the possession of a small amount of marijuana from a criminal offense to a civil penalty similar to a traffic ticket. Fifty-eight percent of voters support access to medical marijuana, and another 58% support a taxed and regulated system similar to those in Washington and Colorado. The people want change, and it appears that politicians in Texas are taking notice. If you agree that marijuana should be taxed and regulated in Texas, be sure to let your state representative and senator know.
Texas’s marijuana laws
In Texas, a conviction for possession of up to two ounces of marijuana can result in a jail sentence of up to six months and a fine of up to $2,000. According to reports of arrests by state law enforcement to the FBI, Texas made over 72,000 arrests in 2012 for marijuana-related offenses. An incredible 98% of those arrests were for possession of marijuana. During the same year, 90% of all reported burglaries — which include home invasions — and 88% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved by law enforcement. Also alarming is the fact that African Americans are more than twice as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Texas as whites, despite similar marijuana use rates. For more information on how the war on marijuana is often waged unequally between races, check out this ACLU report.
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