Each year the Marijuana Policy Project, or MPP, publishes a list of states that will receive planning, execution and fundraising assistance from the organization for the purpose of reforming marijuana laws. In 2014 MPP announced the long-term goal of working toward marijuana legalization in Texas by 2019. This year’s announcement, however, shows a ramped-up effort to push for both medical marijuana as well as decriminalization in the Lone Star State.
Thursday’s announcement marks the first time MPP has directly targeted a state in the south for marijuana law reform, and the fast tracked campaign is likely a result of the fact that support for marijuana reform in Texas is at an all time high. A 2013 poll commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project found that “61% of Texas 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.”
Decriminalization Bill Filed
On December 15, 2014, Rep. Joe Moody introduced HB 507, which would impose a $100 civil fine on the possession of a personal amount of marijuana in Texas. This bill would allow individuals to avoid arrest, possible jail time, and the stigma of a criminal conviction for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. Law enforcement estimates that in 2012, there were over 70,000 cases in which people were either arrested or cited for marijuana possession in Texas — wasting valuable law enforcement time and placing futures at risk.
According to MPP HB 507 is a direct result of their multi-year effort in Texas and is but one piece of the ultimate goal, which is to establish “a compassionate medical marijuana program and legalizing and controlling the marijuana market for adults 21 and older, similarly to alcohol”.
There are several ways you can get involved in this historic campaign.