Last night saw some exciting results for Cannabis Law Reform across the Nation!
Oregon joins Washington and Colorado as the third state to legalize a retail cannabis market with 55% of the voters approving Measure 91. This Legalization Measure is scheduled to take effect July 1, 2015.
Alaska becomes the first conservative state and the fourth state in our Union to legalize a retail cannabis market with 52% of the voters approving Ballot Measure 2. This Legalization Initiative will take effect 90 days after the election results are certified.
US Territory, Guam, passes a medical marijuana program, with 56% of the voters in favor of the Compassionate Cannabis Use Act. The Department of Public Health and Social Services has up to 9 months to provide the rules of the medical program.
Our Nation’s Capitol, Washington, DC, some 70 percent of District voters approved Initiative 71, which removes criminal and civil penalties regarding the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to six plants. Adults who engage in not-for-profit transactions of small quantities of cannabis or who possess marijuana-related paraphernalia are also no longer be subject to penalty under this act. Unlike legalization measures in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, I-71 does not establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial cannabis market. However, members of the DC City Council are currently considering separate legislation to regulate the commercial production and sale of marijuana to adults. (Because Washington, DC does not possess statehood, all District laws are subject to Congressional approval prior to their implementation.)
Florida’s Amendment 2 (a medical cannabis proposal) received 58% of the vote but needed a super majority of 60% to pass. So while this Amendment did not pass, we have hard evidence that a Southern, Conservative State’s population backs access to cannabis therapy.
In California, nearly 60 percent of voters backed Proposition 47, which defelonizes simple drug possession crimes, such as the possession of hashish. Californians with felony records for certain marijuana possession offenses will also be eligible to have their records expunged. Those serving time for felony drug offenses will also be able to petition for resentencing.
Several Michigan Cities (Saginaw, Port Huron and Berkley) decided in favor of local ballot measures depenalizing offenses involving the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. Michigan lawmakers are anticipated to debate a statewide decriminalization proposal in 2015.
South Portland, Maine approved a municipal ordinance eliminating local penalties in regard to the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis.
Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties (In New Mexico) voted in favor of support of the decriminalization of one ounce or less of marijuana at a city, county and state level. Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties represent a third of the state’s population.
To learn more about these elections, click here – http://blog.norml.org/2014/11/05/state-local-marijuana-legalization-measures-win-big-on-election-day/
Due to law changes in 1997, Texas must change drug laws at the state level. Not every state in the US allows for collection of signatures to get an issue on a ballot for public vote. In Texas, we cannot collect signatures to get a ballot initiative on the ballot at the State Level. Therefore we are reliant on our elected Texas State Representatives, Texas State Senators and Governor. (Please see the results of some of the elections below.) Then our next chance to change the laws will be the 2015 Legislative Session.
Greg Abbott – REP – 59.29%
Wendy R. Davis – DEM – 38.87%
Kathie Glass – LIB – 1.40%
Brandon Parmer – GRN – 0.39%
Through multiple sources, we have received this standard letter from Greg Abbott: “Greg Abbott supports current drug policy. Drug use affects every sector of society, straining our economy, our healthcare and criminal justice systems, and endangering the futures of young people. The best methods of combating this problem include a combination of medical treatment and criminal enforcement. Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug (the highest tier of restriction) under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. This means that the substance is recognized by the U.S. government as having a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision. Additionally, due to this classification, it remains illegal under federal law to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense marijuana. Although Eric Holder’s Justice Department has stated that it will not enforce federal law regarding marijuana in some states, federal law (which supersedes Texas law) still clearly prohibits the use of marijuana for either recreational or medical purposes. Even the Obama Administration agrees that marijuana use is harmful and should be discouraged. The White House website notes that: http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/ondcp-fact-sheets/marijuana-legalization
Additionally, while some claim that legalizing and taxing marijuana would generate significant tax revenue, a study in Colorado shows that marijuana tax revenues may not cover the incremental state expenditures related to legalization.
One of our Coalitions members met with Abbott in October and says he is open to civil penalties. We will continue to work that aspect with Gov Abbott and work to educate him more on the truth about cannabis so that he will sign a bill when it comes across his desk.
Texas State Representative District 5
Bryan Hughes – Incumbent REP 92.80%
Ron Walenta LIB 7.19%
Representative Hughes was one of the 6 members on the Criminal Jurisprudence committee that voted the bill to lower penalties out of Committee.
Texas State Representative District 6
Matt Schaefer – Incumbent REP 86.95%
Joel Gardner LIB 13.04%
Representative Schafer was one of the 6 members on the Criminal Jurisprudence committee that voted the bill to lower penalties out of Committee.
Texas State Representative District 150
Debbie Riddle – Incumbent REP 72.43%
Amy Perez DEM 27.56%
In 2005, Representative Riddle voted a bill related to changing the penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana out of committee.
State Representative District 63
Tan Parker – Incumbent REP 76.79%
Daniel Moran DEM 23.20%
Representative Tan Parker said, “Medical marijuana is a topic that has been discussed in the Texas Legislature since I was first elected in 2006. Like any other issue of public policy, it is one that is always evolving and I look forward to continuing to compile new data and information on the topic. However, I am currently considering support for tightly written legislation that would provide marijuana on a strict prescription basis for very specific conditions that have clearly demonstrated medical benefits, such as epilepsy.”
State Representative District 49
Eliot Naishta (DEM) 85.39%
Daniel Krawisz (LIB) 14.61%
Representative Naishtat has repeatedly submitted bills related to the medical use of marijuana, specifically giving patients an affirmative defense and protecting doctors’ rights to discuss with patients in each session for several sessions.
U. S. Representative District 16
Corey Roen- REP – 29.17%
Beto O’Rourke – Incumbent – DEM – 67.48%
Jaime O. Perez – LIB – 3.34%
In his second term as an El Paso city representative, O’Rourke pushed for a resolution calling for a re-examination of the drug war and co-authored a book on the issues. He signed a letter calling on President Obama to direct the attorney general to soften penalties on marijuana related offenses. He also co-sponsored legislation that would require the federal government to recognize state marijuana laws in states which have been passed, such as Colorado and Washington.
U. S. Representative District 21
Lamar Smith – Incumbent – REP – 71.78%
Ryan Shields – LIB – 13.49%
Antonio Diaz – GRN – 14.71%
Publicly stated that he had no intention of considering the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011,” or providing it with a hearing. With Smith’s position as chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, he has great influence on what bills will be considered. The bill would have ended the Federal prohibition on cannabis, turning over the regulation of marijuana to states (similar to alcohol). It was the first of its kind since prohibition began. It would have limited federal powers to interstate transfer; while laws for cultivation, sales, use, and taxation would be determined by each state. Smith stated that “Marijuana use and distribution is prohibited under federal law because it has a high potential for abuse and does not have an accepted medical use and the U.S., The Food and Drug Administration has not approved smoked marijuana for any condition or disease”. Smith also stated that “Decriminalizing marijuana will only lead to millions more Americans becoming addicted to drugs and greater profits for drug cartels who fund violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Allowing states to determine their own marijuana policy flies in the face of Supreme Court precedent”.
At Texas NORML, we are encouraged by the resounding support that a Southern Conservative State (Florida) received for medical cannabis, by the Alaska becoming the first Conservative State to relegalize cannabis. As we continue to see wins across America, it only strengthens the argument for cannabis law reform in Texas. Do not be disheartened! Our path may not be the easiest one but if we maintain our vigilance, education campaigns, actively participate in the 2015 Legislative Session and participate in Action Alerts we are sure that we will see change come to Texas!
Deputy Director of Texas NORML
To donate to our Lobby Campaign – https://shop.texasnorml.org/donate/
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For more information on elections results – https://team1.sos.state.tx.us/enr/results/nov04_175_state.htm?x=0&y=7360&id=218
For more information on the candidates – https://www.texasnorml.org/2016-marijuana-policy-voter-guide-primary-election-edition/
We are still in the process of seeing if there are any other races to report on. At time of publishing, this is the most accurate information we have.