marijuana

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From the Texas Tribune: Epilepsy patients in Texas would have access to medicinal oils containing a therapeutic component found in marijuana under legislation the state Senate passed Thursday.  

Senators voted 26-5 to pass Senate Bill 339, by Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, which would legalize oils containing cannabidiol (CBD), a component found in marijuana known to treat epilepsy and other chronic medical conditions. If the measure passes the House, by 2018, the state would be able to regulate and distribute the oils to patients whose symptoms have not responded to federally approved medication. 

Eighty-Five Year Old Advocates for Marijuana Reform

Mar 5, 2015

Ann Lee, founder of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (RAMP), says it was her son's health that prompted her activism.

 

A new bill in the Texas House of Representatives would strike all references to marijuana from state statutes. Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) filed House Bill 2165 on Monday. The bill would effectively end the state-wide prohibition of the drug.

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Nearly 300 marijuana advocates gathered today at the Texas State Capitol to lobby for lower criminal penalties for possession, such as those proposed in House Bill 507, and for access to medical marijuana. 

Mengwen Cao/KUT

As he ramps up a possible bid for the Republican presidential nomination, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has revealed through a spokesperson that he "foolishly experimented with marijuana" once as a teenager, but feels it was a mistake and has never tried it since. 

An unnamed Cruz spokesperson made the revelation to the UK paper The Daily Mail. The Cruz campaign confirmed to KUT News that the report is accurate. 

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Investors who want to buy into the legal marijuana industry are gathering this weekend in Houston. Organizers say it's the first marijuana investor conference in Texas. 

Even though marijuana is illegal in Texas, it's not necessarily against the law to invest in aspects of the business in one of the 23 states that have permitted it for medical or recreational use.

"If you are touching the plant, and you're in Texas, you may have a problem," organizer Doug Leighton says. "If you're doing the ancillary businesses and products, then I think you have a clear pathway to invest."

Williamson County

A 19-year-old in Round Rock is no longer facing the possibility of life in prison for allegedly making marijuana brownies and selling them for $25 each. The case involving Jacob Lavoro attracted national attention. An online petition against the punishment has more than a quarter million signatures. 

Williamson County assistant District Attorney Mark Brunner says they decided not to pursue a charge based on the total weight of the brownies to avoid jury "distraction" during a possible trial. 

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Texas has one of the lowest rates of marijuana use in the country, according to a closely watched federal report. Recently released state level data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows less than five percent of Texas adults said they had used marijuana in the last month.

Among teenagers, six percent reporting having used marijuana in the last month. That rose to almost 14 percent for the 18-25 year old demographic. Only three percent of adults over 26 in Texas said they had used pot in the last month. The survey data was collected in 2010 and 2011. 

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The Austin City Council is calling on the Texas legislature to legalize medical marijuana. The council passed this resolution Thursday, sponsored by council members Bill Spelman and Mike Martinez, who's running for mayor. The resolution calls for the city to change its state legislative agenda to include support for "legislation to legalize the use of medical marijuana."

Mike Lee, KUT

Vanishing salmon and fields trashed by trespassers are the most common agricultural side effects of marijuana growth in California, experts there say. The idea agriculture commissioner candidate Kinky Friedman promotes of a hemp farming utopia brought on by the legalization of marijuana in Texas, they say, might be more pipe dream than reality.

"It is the green thread that weaves its way through all of our lives," Friedman said of marijuana during an interview with The Texas Tribune's Evan Smith. "This is not about long-haired hippies smokin' dope. It is about the future of Texas."

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Governor Rick Perry appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night.

The talk show has relocated to Austin for the week of South by Southwest. Gov. Perry got a mix of cheers and boos when introduced. He hinted he may run again for president, saying “America is a great place for second chances.”

Perry and Kimmel also talked about efforts towards decriminalizing marijuana.

"For over a decade we’ve lowered the penalties," Perry told Kimmel. "We’re trying to be smart about it. You don’t want to ruin a kid’s life for having a joint.”

Mike Lee, KUT

From StateImpact Texas:

He's run for office three times and lost. But here he is again, the novelist and troubadour that made a name for himself by turning country clichés into satiric social commentary, running for office. Richard "Kinky" Friedman (he got the nickname for his hair) is running as a Democrat for Agriculture Commissioner, and he has a plan to make Texas "greener." He wants to make hemp and marijuana legal in Texas.

“I’m not a dope smoker, okay?” he says with a point of his trademark unlit cigar. “Except with Willie [Nelson]. More as a Texas etiquette kind of thing.” First, his argument for hemp, which is in the same family as marijuana but in its industrial form doesn’t have the medicinal or recreational uses of marijuana. Friedman argues that if cotton farmers in Texas were allowed to grow hemp instead, the trade-offs would be attractive.

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Fifteen law enforcement agencies across East Texas are facing criticism for arresting African-Americans on marijuana possession charges at rates much higher than whites.

The American Civil Liberties Union says Van Zandt County in particular is among the worst offenders in the nation.  The ACLU of Texas says blacks make up less than three percent of the population in Van Zandt County, but they account for three-quarters of all marijuana possession busts.

Jason Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Good morning! Highs in the mid-70’s today bring perfect weather for South By Southwest music fans.

Lead Story: Advanced Micro Devices says it is selling its southwest Austin campus and leasing it back. AMD says it won’t affect operations, but it will free up about $164 million in cash.

Flickr/JosephAdams http://www.flickr.com/photos/josephadams/5930714238/

The penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana in Texas would be reduced under a proposal being examined today by state lawmakers. 

House Bill 184, by State Representative Harold Dutton (D-Houston), would make possession of less than an ounce of pot the equivalent of a traffic violation, a Class C Misdemeanor. And, like a traffic violation, the police officer would issue a fine and let the person go. The fine would be $500, no possibility of jail time. 

With recreational marijuana now legal in Colorado, small-scale pot shops will open up soon in places like Denver and Boulder. But that's not the only business that could get a boost: Large-scale commercial farmers may also be in line to benefit.

Why? When Colorado voters legalized marijuana last November, they also legalized hemp.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune / Mateusz Atroszko, Texas Tribune

A veteran lawmaker hopes actions taken by state legislatures in Washington and Colorado will pave the way for Texas policymakers to consider a bill that hasn’t been heard in committee in nearly a decade.

It looks like the feds will not be worrying much about those folks who choose to smoke pot in Colorado and Washington state, where new laws decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The Justice Department has a big decision to make.

Parts of new laws in Colorado and Washington that legalize small amounts of recreational marijuana will take effect early next month. The Obama administration needs to choose whether it will sue to stop the legislation or let those states go their own way — even though the drug remains illegal under federal law.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, says the message he got from voters is unambiguous.

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Update:  The Texas Civil Rights Project wrote this letter to APD yesterday, requesting an explanation of its disproportionate pot busts within ten business days. Citing the statistics in the story below, project director Jim Harrington writes, “These facts raise serious questions, at least, as to whether APD officers are doing racial profiling or consistently exercising their discretion in favor of whites and against African Americans.”

Original Post (Nov. 10, 1:39 p.m.): Despite Austin’s progressive reputation, smoking marijuana in this city can still get you in trouble with the law. And data from the Austin Police Department shows that is more likely to happen if you are African-American. 

Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) are asking the White House to respect the voters of Colorado and Washington, who decided that recreational marijuana use should be legal.

In a letter sent to President Obama, they wrote:

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