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Texas: House Approves Flawed Medical Marijuana Bill; Will Go To Governor For Signature

TexasMedicalMarijuanaPolicyReform[ProgressTexas]

Bill is intended to allow access to low-THC marijuana extracts for qualifying seizure patients; House fails to pass amendment to fix major problem

The Texas State House on Monday approved a bill 96-34 intended to allow qualifying patients with intractable seizure conditions to access a marijuana extract containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and only trace levels of THC. SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is extremely unlikely to provide patients with relief because it requires doctors to engage in conduct that is prohibited by federal law.

SB 339 previously passed the Senate on May 7. It now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott.

“On a certain level, the legislature should be commended for acknowledging the medical value of marijuana, and it is an historic vote in that sense,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Lawmakers missed several opportunities to amend the bill in ways that could have provided real relief to countless Texans. Not a single patient will be helped by this legislation.”

SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” marijuana to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions. By contrast, doctors “recommend” medical marijuana or “certify” patients to use medical marijuana in the 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws and the District of Columbia. Unlike “prescriptions,” recommendations and certifications are federally legal and protected under the First Amendment.

Texas: House Approves Flawed Medical Marijuana Bill; Will Go To Governor For Signature

TexasMedicalMarijuanaPolicyReform[ProgressTexas]

Bill is intended to allow access to low-THC marijuana extracts for qualifying seizure patients; House fails to pass amendment to fix major problem

The Texas State House on Monday approved a bill 96-34 intended to allow qualifying patients with intractable seizure conditions to access a marijuana extract containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and only trace levels of THC. SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is extremely unlikely to provide patients with relief because it requires doctors to engage in conduct that is prohibited by federal law.

SB 339 previously passed the Senate on May 7. It now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott.

“On a certain level, the legislature should be commended for acknowledging the medical value of marijuana, and it is an historic vote in that sense,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Lawmakers missed several opportunities to amend the bill in ways that could have provided real relief to countless Texans. Not a single patient will be helped by this legislation.”

SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” marijuana to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions. By contrast, doctors “recommend” medical marijuana or “certify” patients to use medical marijuana in the 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws and the District of Columbia. Unlike “prescriptions,” recommendations and certifications are federally legal and protected under the First Amendment.

Texas: Provocative Marijuana TV Ad To Begin Airing As Lawmakers Consider Reducing Penalties

Texas360,000+ArrestsForMarijuanaPossessionFrom2009-2013

A provocative television ad in support of legislation to reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession in Texas began airing Tuesday in the state’s four largest media markets.

The ad is scheduled to air on CNN, ESPN, and Fox News Channel across Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin through Thursday at midnight, the deadline by which the House must approve HB 507 in order for it to advance to the Senate.

You can watch the ad below, or online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E83Uv4VtpsE.

In the ad, Russell Jones, a Texas Hill Country resident who served 10 years as a police officer and narcotics detective in California, highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol and says limited law enforcement resources should not be wasted on arresting and jailing people for using the less harmful substance.

“I know of no instance in my entire career where someone was acting out under the influence of marijuana,” Jones says. “People under the influence of alcohol are much more problematic.

"Law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time than arrest people for marijuana possession," Jones says in the ad. "They need to be there to protect the public, to respond to crimes such as robbery, burglaries, rape, and murders.”

The ad cites annual arrest reports produced by the Texas Department of Public Safety that show more than 360,000 arrests for marijuana possession were made in Texas from 2009-2013.

Texas: Senate Approves Unworkable Medical Marijuana Bill

TexasMedicalMarijuanaPolicyReform[ProgressTexas]

House will now consider measure that is intended to allow access to low-THC marijuana extract for qualifying seizure patients

The Texas State Senate on Thursday approved a bill 26-5 that is intended to allow qualifying patients with intractable seizure conditions to access a marijuana extract containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and only trace levels of THC. SB 339, introduced by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), will now be considered by the state House of Representatives.

“We’re pleased to see a majority of the Senate recognizes the medical benefits of marijuana, but it’s of little comfort if patients aren’t able to experience them,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Texas needs a comprehensive medical marijuana program that allows patients to take full advantage of the various compounds found in different types of marijuana.”

SB 336 requires doctors to “prescribe” marijuana to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions. By contrast, doctors “recommend” medical marijuana or “certify” patients to use medical marijuana in the 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws and the District of Columbia.

Unlike “prescriptions,” recommendations and certifications are federally legal and protected under the First Amendment.

Texas: House Committee Approves Bill To Make Marijuana Legal For Adults

TexasMadeOutOfCannabisLeaves[KISS-FM]

The Texas House of Representatives Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Wednesday approved a bill 5-1 that would end marijuana prohibition in the state.

HB 2165, introduced in March by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), would strike references to marijuana offenses from Texas statutes, resulting in marijuana being treated similarly to other legal crops.

Nearly three out of five Texas voters (58 percent) support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol, according to a statewide survey conducted by Public Policy Polling in September 2013.

Four states have adopted laws that regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. Two of them, Colorado and Washington, have established regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and sales. Alaska and Oregon are in the process of implementing similar systems.

“Marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered in the Lone Star State," said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Texas voters recognize that punishing adults for consuming a substance that is safer than alcohol is a waste of law enforcement resources and an affront to individual liberty. It appears most of the committee members agree.

“State officials are increasingly becoming fed up with the failed federal government policy of marijuana prohibition, and they’re taking action," Fazio said. "Like most Americans, most Texans are ready for a more sensible, fiscally sound marijuana policy.”

Texas: Bill To Reduce Penalties For Marijuana Possession Advances In House

TexasLoneLeafState(usethisone)

Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence approves HB 507, which would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of a personal amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250

The Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence on Monday approved a bill that would reduce state penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The measure will now advance to the House Calendars Committee.

HB 507, authored by committee vice-chair Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250. Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

“Texas cannot afford to continue criminalizing tens of thousands of citizens for marijuana possession each year,” Rep. Moody said. “We need to start taking a more level-headed approach. It is neither fair nor prudent to arrest people, jail them, and give them criminal records for such a low-level, non-violent offense.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were 72,150 arrests or citations issued for marijuana-related offenses in Texas in 2012, 97% of which were for simple possession. That same year, nearly 90% of all burglaries, including home invasions, and 88% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.

Texas: Veterans To Gather At State Capitol To Support Medical Marijuana

Texas-RepDavidSimpsonQuotePeopleShouldMakeTheirOwnHealthDecisions[TexansForResponsibleMarijuanaPolicy]

Texas-based military veterans and their families will gather at the state capitol on Wednesday for a lobby day in support of legislation that would allow medical marijuana to be used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe pain, and other debilitating medical conditions.

The group will hold a news conference at 12 noon CT in Room 110 of the John H. Reagan State Office Building, at which it will urge House Public Health Committee Chair Myra Crownover (R-Denton) to hold a hearing on HB 3785, which would allow seriously ill Texas residents to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

Advocates will also highlight a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling at the end of March that found two out of three voters in Rep. Crownover’s district (67 percent) support such legislation.

“There are about 1.67 million veterans living in Texas, and hundreds of thousands of them are believed to be suffering from service-connected disabilities,” said Tristan Tucker, a Denton-based Navy veteran. “Medical marijuana is effective in mitigating the symptoms of PTSD and severe pain, two of the most prevalent conditions afflicting veterans.

"Veterans who use medical marijuana to treat their service-related injuries should be treated like patients, not criminals,” Tucker said.

Global: Original Series 'Four Twentysomethings' Premieres Monday, April 20

FourTwentySomethingsStreaming4.20.15

They toke. They smoke. They joke. They’re “Four Twentysomethings.” Hardworking slackers Robert Kaval, Steven Hugh Nelson, and Steve Scapardine premiere their original series on YouTube on Monday, April 20 at 4:20 a.m. CT. "Please, don’t call it a web series," the ask. "It sounds more professional this way."

Combining the wit and idiocy of all three creators, “Four Twentysomethings” follows four friends in their twenties who work at a marijuana dispensary, which means the title is also the logline. Like “Clerks,” but with weed, the characters talk, complain, and pretty much do anything but actually work.

Sometimes, they put up with the antics of Skater Dave, their stoner friend, or Sonny, the official "Owner and Stoner." Always, they put up with an empty store because the creators couldn’t afford to pay extras.

“This is honestly one of the greatest shows I’ve ever watched, and certainly the best I’ve ever created,” said one of the Steves. “This is also the only show I’ve ever created. Or watched.”

Faint, untrustworthy praise could also be found elsewhere.“Yeah, I guess it’s alright, but I wish he would’ve gone to law school,” said Sheila, the other Steve’s mother. A stranger who walked past me in the coffeehouse said, “What? You want a quote for what?”

Texas: Lawmakers Hold Hearing On Bill To Reduce Penalties For Marijuana Possession

Texas-RepDavidSimpsonQuotePeopleShouldMakeTheirOwnHealthDecisions[TexansForResponsibleMarijuanaPolicy]

The Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence will hold a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would reduce state penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The hearing is scheduled to take place in the Texas State Capitol Extension E2.030 upon adjournment of the House.

HB 507, authored by committee vice-chair Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), will be one of several marijuana-related bills considered by the committee on Wednesday. It is the only proposal that would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of $100.

Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

“When I was a prosecutor, I saw firsthand how scarce our criminal justice resources are and how disproportionately harsh drug convictions can be on nonviolent offenders, especially young people,” said Rep. Moody. “As a lawmaker, I have a responsibility to make sure we’re spending our resources wisely and treating our people fairly. That’s what HB 507 is about.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were 72,150 arrests or citations issued for marijuana-related offenses in Texas in 2012, 97 percent of which were for simple possession. That same year, nearly 90 percent of all burglaries, including home invasions, and 88 percent of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.

Texas: Trooper Ordered Into Counseling After Being Photographed With Snoop Dogg

SnoopDoggAndTexasTrooperBillySpears[Instagram]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Texas state trooper has been reprimanded and forced to undergo "counseling" after being photographed with music legend Snoop Dogg.

Trooper Billy Spears, who was pictured in uniform beside the rapper at the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, is now fighting back, according to his lawyer, arguing that while he agreed to be photographed, he didn't realized the famed rapper had marijuana convictions, or that they'd affect him, reports Nina Golgowski at the New York Daily News.

"Martha Stewart, she's a convicted felon," said Spears' attorney, Ty Clevenger. "What about Randy Travis? He's had run-ins with the law."

Snoop Dogg posted the photo, taken last month, on Instagram after apparently requesting the photo himself while serving as the keynote speaker at SXSW. Spears' superiors in the department eventually saw the photo, that didn't identify Spears or the department by name, and were not amused.

"Me n my deputy dogg," Snoop captioned the shot on Instagram.

"While working a secondary employment job, Trooper Spears took a photo with a public figure who has a well-known criminal background including numerous drug charges," reads the counseling reprimand, obtained by The Daily News. "The public figure posted the photo on social media and it reflects poorly on the Agency."

U.S.: Willie Nelson Launching His Own Brand Of Marijuana

WillieNelsonToday'sTheDay

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Music legend Willie Nelson, now 81, plans to launch his own signature brand of marijuana called Willie's Reserve.

According to PR person Michael Bowman, a veteran hemp and cannabis lobbyist who serves as the new brand's spokesperson, Willie wants the signature cannabis strain to be a reflection of his passions, reports James Joiner at The Daily Beast.

"Ultimately, it's his," Bowman said. "But it was developed by his family, and their focus on environmental and social issues, and in particular this crazy War On Drugs, and trying to be a bright light amongst this trail as we're trying to extract ourselves from the goo of prohibition."

"Really he wants it, at the end of the day, to envelop what his personal morals and convictions are," Bowman said. "So from the store itself to how they'll work with suppliers and how things are operated, it's going to be very reflective of Willie's life. I think it's safe to say there will be stores that roll out in the states where marijuana has become legal," Bowman ventured.

According to Bowman, the stores will carry both signature strains grown under Willie's oversight, and other strains of cannabis as well. "There will be our own, and then there will be opportunities for other growers, who meet quality standards," he said.

"In the next calendar year there will be movement," Bowman said.

Texas: Moms Host Lobby Day To Call For Passage Of Medical Marijuana Law

MAMMAMothersAdvocatingMedicalMarijuanaforAutism

Dozens of Texas mothers from all across the state with seriously ill children came together in the state capitol to call for passage of legislation that will help reduce their children’s suffering

A new statewide network of Texas moms and caregivers came together on Thursday in the Committee Hearing Room to lobby in support of legislation addressing access to medical marijuana.

Twenty-three states, one U.S. territory (Guam) and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing the use of marijuana for qualifying patients under state law. Rep. Marisa Márquez (D-El Paso) the House sponsor of Texas’ first ever comprehensive medical marijuana legislation, HB 3785, said “as a state that leads the nation in innovative medical research, Texas needs to take a scientific and reasoned approach to the known benefits of medical marijuana.”

Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) who introduced a companion bill in the Senate believes that “these mothers are doing what any parent would be doing -- advocating for safe medicine and relief for their suffering children. We have to stop criminalizing being a mother and help them gain access to effective treatment."

Two additional bills have also been filed in the Legislature this session, one specific to sufferers of epilepsy and another that would give medical marijuana patients an affirmative defense in court should they be arrested on charges of marijuana possession. The mothers will be lobbying in support of a solution to the endless suffering their children endure.

Texas: Lawmakers Hold News Conference On Medical Marijuana Legislation

MarisaMarquezTexasStateRepresentative[TheTexasTribune]

State Rep. Marisa Márquez (D-El Paso) and other Texas legislators will hold a news conference Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. CT in the Speaker’s Committee Room to discuss HB 3785 and SB 1839. They will be joined by Fort Worth cancer patient Barbara Humphries and other seriously ill Texans.

HB 3785, introduced by Rep. Márquez in the House, and SB 1839, introduced by Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) in the Senate, would allow patients with cancer, seizure disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. It would also allow the Department of State Health Services to establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana cultivators, processors, and dispensaries.

The bills differ from previously introduced legislation that would allow access to CBD oils with little or no THC. Many patients have found that THC and other components of whole marijuana are needed in addition to CBD in order to effectively treat their conditions. Some have relocated to states with more comprehensive medical marijuana laws so that they can access whole marijuana and oils that include a more balanced ratio of CBD and THC.

“Thousands of Texas veterans use medical cannabis to treat PTSD, chronic pain, and other service-related disabilities,” said retired U.S. Army Major David Bass. “Veterans should not have to flee the state or depend on the criminal market to access the medication that best fits their needs. Now is the time for Texas to approve safe and legal access to therapeutic cannabis.”

Texas: Lawmakers Introduce Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill

TexansForResponsibleMarijuanaPolicy

Measures introduced in the House and Senate on Friday would allow patients with debilitating conditions — including veterans with PTSD — to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it

Texas state lawmakers on Friday introduced legislation that would allow patients with cancer, seizure disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

HB 3785, introduced by Rep. Marisa Márquez (D-El Paso) in the House, and a companion bill that will be introduced later Friday by Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) in the Senate, would create a program through which individuals with qualifying medical conditions would receive licenses allowing them to possess limited amounts of medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. It would also direct the Department of State Health Services to establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana cultivators, processors, and dispensaries.

“The law currently does not reflect marijuana’s legitimate medical use and denies access to patients, such as veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, citizens suffering with cancer, and severe aliments of the aging,” Rep. Márquez said. “By continuing to deny access to patients, we limit the rights of families to seek the best possible treatment for conditions that do not respond to other drugs or therapies.

Texans For Responsible Marijuana Policy Hold Citizen Lobby Day On Wednesday

TexansForResponsibleMarijuanaPolicy(logo)

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy are holding a Citizen Lobby Day at the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday, February 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT.

Attendees will be urging their elected officials to support HB 507, which would reduce penalties for marijuana possession, and asking them to support the establishment of a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Texas.

More than three out of five Texas voters (61 percent) support limiting the punishment for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a fine of $100 with no possibility of jail time, according to a September 2013 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling. Nearly three out of five (58 percent) support changing state law to allow seriously ill people to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

“Most Texas voters support reforming our state’s current marijuana policies,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Legislators need to hear from their constituents on this issue, and events like this will ensure that they do. Texans are fed up with failed prohibition policies, and they’re speaking out for a more a sensible approach.”

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy

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