Republican Delegates at the State Convention in San Antonio succeeded in updating the Texas GOP platform to include planks that support making the Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP) more inclusive, removal of criminal penalty for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana, the re-scheduling of and growing industrial hemp in Texas. This took a powerful effort from the grassroots, delegates and Republicans in advance of the convention and during the long, multi-step process it takes to approve and adopt planks to the Republican Platform.
Here is what happened over the week leading up to these planks adoption:
- Monday night before the convention, the Criminal and Civil Justice Sub Committee passed a resolution to remove criminal penalties for possession of 1 ounce or less. The Health and Human Service Sub Committee passed a resolution to improve TCUP.
- On Tuesday, the Legislative Priorities Committee (LPC) met to determine the top legislative priorities for the next session. The Committee took testimony from 15 people include sitting Representative Jason Issac.
- When the Temporary Platform Committee (TPC) issued their report on Wednesday, it included both of the planks. Additionally, the LPC took an informal poll and medical cannabis was in the top ten. They would ultimately adopt 8 priorities and medical cannabis unfortunately did not make the cut.
- Thursday the Permanent Platform Committee considered the TPC report. The final report the Permanent Platform Committee adopted included the following cannabis related planks, which were then voted on by the delegates on Saturday:
- Penalty Reduction for Possession: We support a change in the law to make it a civil, and not a criminal, offense for legal adults only to possess one ounce or less of marijuana for personal use, punishable by a fine of up to $100, but without jail time. (Passed 83%)
- Expand Access to Medical Cannabis: We call upon the Texas Legislature to improve the 2015 Compassionate Use Act to allow doctors to determine the appropriate use of cannabis to recommend to certified patients. (Passed 82%)
- Call for Re-scheduling Cannabis: Congress should remove cannabis from the list of Schedule 1 and moved to Schedule 2. (Passed 90%)
- Industrial Hemp: We recognize industrial hemp as a valuable agricultural commodity. We urge the Texas Legislature to pass legislation allowing cultivation, manufacture and sale of industrial hemp and hemp products. (Passed 83%)
These types of changes are extremely important in advance of the 2019 Legislative Session. Pre-filing bills will start on November 12th, 2018 and the session will officially kick off on January 8th, 2019.
If you are in the Fort Worth area or are a delegate to the Democratic Convention, join the Texas Cannabis Caucus on Friday, June 22nd, 2018 at 1pm.
Jax Finkel is the Executive Director of Texas NORML, the state affliate of NORML. Follow their work on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Visit their website at www.texasnorml.org and make a contribution to support their work at www.texasnorml.org/donate/
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Author: Jax Finkel, Texas NORML Executive Director