Texas: Legislators To Try Again To Lower Marijuana Penalties


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Two lawmakers in Texas have vowed to reintroduce marijuana legislation "as many times as it takes," but drug policy experts say it will be from five to 10 years before the Legislature might change the Lone Star State's cannabis laws.

"I would say within the next decade," said Nathan Jones, Ph.D., with Rice University's Baker Institute, reports Kevin Reece at KHOU 11 News. "If you're looking at the polling data it looks pretty electable. Or it looks almost inevitable."

Recent polls show about 58 percent of Texans supporting the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana. An even larger majority -- 61 percent -- supports reducing penalties for possession of small amounts of pot.

State Rep. Harold Dutton Jr. said he's going to try for a fourth time to get a vote on his bill that would lessen penalties for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. Under current Texas law, possession of two ounces or less is a Class B misdemeanor and get can you up to six months in jail. "I think that's a little overkill for somebody who has an ounce or less of marijuana," Dutton said.

Is it a dangerous thing to be using (marijuana) in your house, for example?" Dutton asked. "Probably not any more so than having a drink in your house."

Texas: Man Arrested For Marijuana Dies In Police Custody


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

City officials are investigating the death of a Deer Park, Texas man who died while in policy custody on a marijuana charge on October 13.

Richard David Benefiel, 34, was arrested for possession of marijuana on Sunday during a "suspicious vehicle" investigation at about 7:38 a.m. in League City, reports Craig Hlavaty at the Houston Chronicle.

Police found Benefiel down an unpaved road with the hood of his vehicle raised. They stopped to investigate the scene, and said they found marijuana in his possession.

According to police, he was showing signs of intoxication from an "unknown substance" at the time of his arrest. Officers claimed that, while in custody, Benefiel declined numerous offers of medical attention "as he showed signs of detoxing."

He was compliant while in custody, according to the League City police report.

"When we arrest someone we ask them a series of medical questions and also ask if they would like medical attention," claimed spokesperson Reagan Pena with the League City Police Department.

Police said "it's possible" that Benefiel was suffering from "an especially rough alcohol detox."

Benefiel complained of body pain during a prisoner check at 5:55 p.m., and requested treatment. Minutes later, he was tended to by a League City EMS unit, according to officers.

Texas: Poll Shows 58% of Voters Support Legalizing Marijuana


More than 60 percent support removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession and replacing them with a civil citation similar to a traffic ticket

A strong majority of Texas voters (58 percent) support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Only 38 percent said they were opposed.

"Marijuana prohibition has been just as big a failure as alcohol prohibition," said MPP executive director Rob Kampia, a part-time Austin resident. "Most Texans agree that marijuana sales should be conducted by legitimate businesses instead of drug cartels in the underground market."

The poll also found that 61 percent of state voters support removing criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replacing them with a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 with no possibility of jail time. Only 30 percent said they were opposed.

Under current Texas law, it is a criminal offense for a person to possess a small amount of marijuana, and he or she can be sentenced to up to one year in jail and fined up to $2,000.

"Law enforcement officials' time would be better spent addressing violent crimes instead of adults simply possessing marijuana," Kampia said. "No adult should face potentially life-altering criminal penalties for using a product that is significantly less harmful than alcohol."

Texas: Cops Mistake Tomato Plants For Marijuana; Raid Hippie Commune


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Police in Arlington, Texas could really use some brushing up on their "drug recognition" techniques after conducting an August 2 raid on the Garden of Eden, a hippie commune/organic farm, handcuffing the residents at gunpoint and damaging both the property and the crops.

"They can't even tell the difference between tomato plants and a marijuana drug cartel," Garden of Eden resident Quinn Eaker told Ben Russell of NBC 5. "That's just really bad intel."

Several residents at the 3.5-acre sustainability garden were handcuffed at gunpoint by police officers during the raid -- which also involved a paramilitary SWAT team -- after an undercover officer and "helicopter surveillance" (yes, these morons were wasting taxpayer dollars spying on a hippie commune from a helicopter) supposedly gave law enforcement "probable cause" to believe pot was being grown on the premises.

"They came here under the guise that we were doing a drug trafficking, marijuana-growing operation," owner Shellie Smith told WFAA. "They destroyed everything."

Smith said officers took away their food, and everything they need for a sustainable lifestyle.

Texas: 2-Year-Old Dies After Being Taken From Pot-Smoking Parents, Placed In Abusive Foster Home


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The war on marijuana has claimed another victim. A two-year-old little girl who was taken away from her parents because they smoked pot in their Round Rock, Texas home died Monday night, seven months after being placed in abusive foster homes.

Alexandria Hill was taken away from Joshua Hill and his wife for "neglectful supervision" simply because they admitted using marijuana while the child slept, reports Michael Allen at Opposing Views. She was placed in an abusive foster home contracted by Child Protective Services.

"She would come to visitation with bruises on her, and mold and mildew in her bag," Hill told KVUE-TV. "It got to a point where I actually told CPS that they would have to to have me arrested because I wouldn't let her go back."

Alexandria was placed in a second foster home, with Sherill Small in Rockdale, Texas, seven months ago. The toddler was rushed to a hospital Monday night with severe head injuries. On Wednesday night, she was taken off life support and died.

"They wouldn't tell me what condition she was in or what was wrong or what had happened," Hill said. "The only thing they would tell me is I needed to be there. When I got there, I found out that Alex was in a coma."

Texas: Army Veteran Loses Gun Rights For 1971 Misdemeanor Marijuana Conviction


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Army veteran who retired in 1993 after 20 years of military service is fighting to restore his Second Amendment rights after learning when trying to buy a gun that he can't own one -- due to a marijuana misdemeanor from 42 years ago.

Ron Kelly was in high school when he got busted for pot in 1971, reports Cheryl K. Chumley at The Washington Times.

Kelly said he'd forgotten all about the pot charge when he tried to buy a .22 rifle at the Wal-Mart in Tomball, Texas. But the clerk told him he didn't pass the computerized background check, reports Dane Schiller at the Houston Chronicle.

Federal law, specifically the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, says that any person convicted of a crime -- even a misdemeanor -- that carries the potential for two years in jail can be denied gun ownership, The Blaze's Jason Howerton reports.

Kelly said he he'd spent the night in jail back in 1971, and served a year of probation. He didn't know he'd lost his gun rights, and meanwhile, he estimated he'd fired more than 100,000 rounds while serving in the Army infantry.

Texas: Group Hosts Conference Aimed Towards Ending Marijuana Prohibition


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, held its first ever conference in downtown Fort Worth over the weekend. DFW NORML shared the message that criminal penalties should be removed for private possession and use of cannabis by adults.

"We want to minimize abuse and prevent its availability to kids by implementing age controls," said attorney Keith Stroup, who founded NORML back in 1970, reports CBS DFW. Stroup was one of many speakers at the event which also featured local attorneys, activists, law enforcement officials and former California Superior Court Judge Jim Gray.

Speakers discussed the failure of the Drug War, the cost benefits of cannabis legalization, and the need for allowing compassionate care with medical marijuana.

"The idea that marijuana is a Schedule I drug, that it has no medicinal use, is ludicrous," said Judge Gray, citing drugs like Marinol, a synthetic form of THC created by the pharmaceutical industry and classified as a Schedule III drug, available by prescription.

Gray, who served on the Orange County Superior Court from 1989 to 2009 and spent most of his career dealing with drug-related issues, says he's never used an illegal drug. But he's an outspoken critic of the War On Drugs, and was also the Vice Presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party in the 2012 election.

Texas: Activists Say Lone Star State Moving Towards Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Optimism is a good thing, don't you think? Some activists say FBI crime statistics will help move Texas closer to legalizing marijuana.

Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) points to new crime stats showing African Americans, while only making up about 12 percent of Texas' population, are arrested far more often than whites for marijuana possession, reports CBS DFW.

"There is no logical reason why law enforcement officials should be spending their time arresting and prosecuting adults simply for possessing a product that is objectively less harmful than alcohol," Tvert said.

"It is the 15th highest arrest rate and right now, black Americans are being arrested at more than twice the rate as white," Tvert said. "Communities of color are really facing the most enforcement despite the fact that they use marijuana at the same rate as whites."

Marijuana prohibition costs U.S. taxpayers $41.8 billion per year, according to the MPP. Tvert said law enforcement needs to prioritize its crime-fighting efforts.

"We are spending our law enforcement resources arresting adults for marijuana, when we could be using those resources to address serious crime," he said.

Texas: UT Students Want To Stop Marijuana Arrests On Campus

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Students at the University of Texas are proposing a bill that would be the first of its kind on any campus in the United States: It would stop university police from arresting anyone for marijuana possession, instead giving them a citation similar to a traffic ticket.

Twelve authors are proposing the bill in the UT Student Government, according to graduate student Robert Love, who said tobacco smoking and second-hand smoke are much bigger problems on campus than is cannabis, reports Kris Betts at KVUE.

"Marijuana is not a threat to safety on campus, so let's take resources away from marijuana and put it toward things that are dangerous to students," Love said.

The proposed student government bill would ask UT police to issue citations for all marijuana possession cases under four ounces, instead of making arrests.

"I want to make sure that they have the availability to spend those resources investigating violent crime, rather than forcing them to investigate marijuana crimes on campus," Love said.

Travis County, Texas, where the University is located, currently allows officers to either make an arrest or issue a citation at their discretion. Love says that can encourage racial profiling.

"Citations should be the standard, and that way blacks, white and Latinos get the same treatment under the law," he said.

Texas: New step toward decriminalization of pot


One political party wants to completely decriminalize marijuana. And not just allow medical marijuana, but make marijuana possession for anyone completely legal. In The Rewrite, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell has details on a surprising step towards saner drug laws in this country.

Source: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/the-last-word/47884103#47884103

Texas: Advocates gather to promote change in marijuana laws

by Rachel Meador, Daily Texan Staff

High above the Pecan Street Festival, Texans for the legalization of marijuana showed their support Saturday night at the Third Annual Sixth Street Smokeout and 2008 Global Marijuana Music Awards at Momo’s.

The Texas branch of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, hosted the event with proceeds funding efforts to decriminalize recreational marijuana use by responsible adults. The diverse lineup ranged from spoken poetry to swing music, country to reggae, but all advocated legal change.

The Broken Poetz drove their expertly spray-painted van five hours from McAllen to contribute their hip-hop-psychedelic sound to the lineup. The group addresses the problems surrounding current marijuana laws in their original songs. “Mr. Weedy” and “Two-Time Offender” received cheers of support at the smokeout.

“Too many people are in jail right now just for marijuana charges,” said Jason Salas, member of The Broken Poetz. “We want to help expose what’s really going on. It’s real messed up when an adult can’t possess just for personal use.”

The patio overlooking the Austin skyline was lined with information booths, artists selling blown glass pieces and miscellaneous pro-pot regalia while roaming advocates dispensed free gear and information to attendees. NORML members and vendors were eager to answer questions and shed some light on marijuana misconceptions.

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