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Grassroots Activism Fuels Marijuana Law Reforms in the Lone Star State

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator May 1, 2017

    10253989_10152787252362360_1345699000664750724_nFor marijuana activists in Texas, the road to reforming marijuana laws has not been easy.

    With the state legislature only meeting every two years and no ballot initiative process or ability to reform marijuana laws on the local level, activists must put all their time and energy into lobbying state lawmakers in support meaningful reforms.

    Although there has been several minor victories this legislative session, some within the Texas state legislature are determined to derail or at the very least, stall any effort to provide ailing patients with access to medical marijuana. But activists like Jax Finkle, Executive Director of Texas NORML and Clif Deuvall, Executive Director of Waco NORML aren’t planning to allow these obstacles to slow their progress.

    “With Texas being restricted from using traditional ballot initiatives, it is so imperative that the citizens of Texas engage with the legislators. These connections matter even more when forged during the interim of the Legislative Session,” said Jax Finkle. “In fact, engagement over the two year cycle is so important that we hosted 16 trainings across Texas with curriculum that was targeted based on the part of the cycle it was to enable people to be force multipliers in their areas. As a result, we are seeing even stronger numbers of support in Texas, more action in the legislature and we will see more results unfold over the 85R Legislative Session.”

    Over the last three years, Jax has worked tirelessly with more than a dozen local NORML chapters to grow their annual lobby day from just a few dozen to more than 375 participants. From El Paso to Beaumont and Amarillo to McAllen, supporters of marijuana legalization from all over Texas continue to show they’re ready, willing, and able to fight for what they believe in.

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    “The advocacy and educational opportunities which arise give way to understanding of the issue and the legislative process,” said Clif Deuvall. “In Texas, I’ve seen Lobby Day attendance rise from a handful to several hundred in a few years. These individuals, encompassing a variety of demographics and locations across the state, have created a strong grassroots coalition.”

    With this new strategy of facilitating statewide trainings for grassroots volunteers, supporters of marijuana law reforms can be certain NORML members across Texas are fighting daily to end marijuana prohibition.

    “The message has become more cohesive in an effort to provide the clear understanding of the overall needs of Texas’ cannabis consumers,” added Deuvall. “It is through efforts, such as a lobby day, Texans have seen steady progress in cannabis reform across the state.”

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    Next up, members and volunteers with Texas NORML and affiliate chapters will be focusing their attention on HB-2107 which is scheduled to be heard by the Health Committee on Tuesday, May 2nd. If passed, HB 2107 would make the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive for patients with debilitating medical conditions.

    TAKE ACTION: Contact Texas lawmakers to urge them to support House Bill 2107 by clicking here! Texan patients deserve safe and legal access to medical cannabis just as 30 other states currently provide.

    For future updates on marijuana law reform efforts in the Lone Star State, follow Texas NORML by visiting their website, Facebook page, and Twitter!

    14 Responses to “Grassroots Activism Fuels Marijuana Law Reforms in the Lone Star State”

    1. Julian says:

      Thanks for the support Kevin and everyone at National NORML who works on these links and encouraging everyone we can to contact their legislators here in Texas and abroad.

      Julian says:
      April 30, 2017 at 12:06 am
      Thank you Justin, the whole NORML staff and to all our members and supporters that contacted their legislators to keep the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment rolling. 24,000 letters in one week is no tiny accomplishment. Lets keep it up!

      Texans: For those of us who can make it to the Capitol in Austin tomorrow to support HB2107 through committee its worth the walk all the way to the back of the capitol to the House kiosks. Gotta go downstairs, pass the rotunda, pass the Capitol Cafe down the hall to the left behind the House Committee conference rooms. The touchscreen House kiosks are against the wall.
      Or just get within wifi range outside and click here and follow the instructions:
      https://www.mytxlegis.legis.state.tx.us/hwrspublic/about.aspx
      Registering support while in committee can tip the balance for medical marijuana to get out of committee and get a floor vote in the House, for the first time in 30 years.
      Special thanks to Jax Finkle who has worked wonders at pulling members and representatives into the state capitol.
      We need to show up and meet our state reps and Senators in PERSON. Dress professionally. Remember to sign in at the front desk and walk right in to speak with the secratary or staff member that greets you. Be polite. Be informed. Be NORML.
      :-)

    2. Essay writer says:

      It is going to be passed soon,just wait and see

    3. Julian says:

      The Committee hearing, as predicted, was set for the very end of the night. Understandably this is done because the number of registrants to testify, but I often wonder how many sick witnesses or children on a school night get left out.
      I registered and walked through Health committee hearings with my children at 9:00pm and HB2107 still wasnt being heard. (BTW, if anyone wants to register from the wifi outside you need to use an i-pad. And if youre little brother is a southern Austinite youll have to abduct him to get him to go downtown… its a traffic/ tourist thing).
      So no word yet, but you know Ill keep you posted!

    4. Julian says:

      Heres video of the hearing:

      http://tlchouse.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=40&clip_id=13856

      gotta forward to the middle, about 2 1/2 hours in before testimony starts on HB2107.

      Thanks to Texas NORML Executive Director Jax Finkle, Rep. Lucio, (Democrat, Brownsville) and Rep. Isaac (Republican, Dripping Springs) and all the parents and witnesses who passionately gave their testimony for this historic day!

    5. Julian says:

      To contact chairman Price and encourage him to call a vote on HB2107:

      Four.price@house.texas.gov

      I watched about half of the hearing and was brought to tears by the powerful testimony. If there was ever a question of why my Representative Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs TX was motivated to cosponsor HB81 or any of these marijuana reform bills click on the link in my previous post and watch this mother with a severely epileptic child put Rep. Isaac in tears;

      (Isaac, in tears) “You get me every time…” Isaac said choking with tears… “And I promise… I dont care if it makes me lose elections… I will never stop fighting for you.”
      The whole room erupted in applause.

      Special thanks to Representative Eddie Lucio III, who authored the bill in companion to the main stake holder State Senator Mendez who authored SB269 which awaits a hearing. (Take Action). Lucio had a couple of early comic relief lines after identifying to Chairman Price Rep. Isaac as a stakeholder who turned out to be to his right on the panel:

      “I had a constiuent chew me out for another bill, posting profanities. Then he read that I sponsored this bill HB2107 and he wrote, “I meant everything I said before, but THANK YOU for sponsoring this bill!”

      “This is the first bill Ive submitted which proposes a budget surplus …of 9 million dollars at that!”

      (To which he had the whole Health committee rolling with laughter).

      Make no mistake, last night’s hearing which concluded at 2am has set the House on fire… there are now more than 70 cosponsors signed up today for HB2107 including dozens of Republicans. Were making history NORML. In a state with no voter initiatives where persuading our reps is our only choice boy did we persuade! Thank you to all the witnesses who testified! God bless you all!

    6. anaman51 says:

      If the Texas supporters can pull this off, maybe there’s hope for states like Idaho. In the grand scheme of things, I see Idaho as the last state in the Union to get on board—if then. Used to live there long ago, now live in Washington. I feel bad for all those still living with this legalized oppression.

      • Julian says:

        If we can pull this off here with grassroots activism we can pull this off anywhere.

        Its all of us v. a few filthy billionaires:

        http://www.alternet.org/economy/greg-palast-americas-greedy-billionaires-have-staged-political-coup?akid=15517.2366751.DcvuHr&rd=1&src=newsletter1076428&t=4

        http://www.thebestdemocracymoneycanbuy.com

        Stand up and let our voices be heard. In committee hearings, in our reps office, on the street marching, we can do this together.

        • Evening Bud says:

          Julian,

          I’ve withheld criticizing Texas many times, in deference to you. I’m actually a Texan myself, originally, born there and having gone to 1st and 2nd grade there. But Texas has always had a reputation, at least here in NM, as a hard-ass state, where you could get 5 years in the pen for a friggin’ seed. I don’t know if that was true, but I heard kids talking about that in high school in the ’70s.

          But, to your comment, and that of anaman51, if Texas can pull it off . . .

          Here’s hoping Texas CAN pull it off (and Idaho too). I’m hoping that NM can legalize after our own Texan, Susana Martinez, finally departs the Roundhouse in Santa Fe. Legalization is feeling more and more in the air here in NM.

          • Julian says:

            @Evening Bud,
            By now you may have read the great news that HB81 to decriminalize marijuana in the state of Texas is going to get a house vote tomorrow, Thursday, May 11th! This is the first of its kind since our NORML founder Keith Stroup helped decriminalize possession down from Life in Prison back in 1973… so yes, what you “heard kids talking about in the 70s” was even worse than what we could imagine today with 2,000 fines and 6 months in jail on one’s record. Not much has changed over the last few decades.
            So much credit for HB81 goes to patient advocates and their parents convincing our state legislators by citizen lobbying. Here in Texas we have no other choice. DA Kim Ogg started the dominoes with Decrim in Houston. And I cant say enough good things about Texas NORML Ex. Dir. Jax Finkle, MPPs Michelle Fazio, or the bipartisan work between Rep. Moody D-El Paso and my Rep Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs.

            As for New Mexico, I believe I sent you a link way back when on how to petition a referendum to bypass the Governor:

            https://ballotpedia.org/Laws_governing_the_referendum_process_in_New_Mexico

            This process is unique to New Mexico, and it depends on cooperation from the state attorney’s office. Get with your local NORML chapter to discuss a strategy and speak with a lawyer first. Good luck! And wish us luck here in Texas Thursday! Remember, luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. Some states just take more preparation than others! :-)

    7. Byron says:

      As I see it, Indiana will be the last state to accept cannabis as the former governor and now vice-president Mike Pence, when asked about marijuana legislation, replied, “that’s not gonna happen”. I recently got a reply from Rep. Todd Rokita that basically said the same thing. They are getting away with prohibiting a useful plant because of a lie. How can any law be moral that is based on a lie? The law itself is a falsehood used to punish others over behavior that uptight assholes find reprehensible and they can’t have the unwashed going about mucking up their carefully constructed pseudo-reality. How dare they? We let them lie us into it and now we know who’s behind the curtain suffering from delusions of grandeur. They are on notice and it galls them to think that you would say no to their idea of nirvana.

    8. Julian says:

      HB2107 to legalize medical marijuana passes committee 7-2! Its being referred to Calendar Committee! Contact your Texas house representative through the green Act tab!

      Thank you to all the brave parents and marijuana refugees that drove or flew all the way from Colorado or California to testify before the Health Committee, and all those who protested outside the capitol to get this bill into committee! The harder the battle the sweeter the victory.

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