Published: May 12, 2015, 6:12 pm
By Neal Pollack, The Cannabist Staff
AUSTIN, TEXAS — On a Wednesday night in early April, dozens of veterans with PTSD, several families of children with severe epilepsy, a wealthy suburban couple whose son’s life was ruined when he got caught smoking a roach, a Republican grandmother, a U.S. District judge, a professor from Houston, at least a dozen activists, a small handful of dedicated hippies and the guy who sells me pot walked into a basement hearing room in the annex of the Texas State Capitol building.
They’d come to testify on behalf of two Texas House bills, one that would decriminalize marijuana possession and one that would outright end marijuana prohibition in Texas forever. It was 9:30 p.m, and they’d been waiting all day for the regular business of the House to end so they could say their piece. They crammed the room.
Texas marijuana reform was a war of attrition that they planned to win.
(Deborah Cannon, Statesman.com file)
The House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, finally free of its daily responsibilities of the House floor, sat in front of them, listening with great interest — likely greater interest than any government officials had ever listened to marijuana-rights activists in Texas before. It was a rare moment. Of the seven people on the committee, two of them had introduced the bills under discussion.
They heard a litany of woes that would have made contestants on the old “Queen For A Day” TV game show blush. A paramedic and his wife, as white and all-American as a Chevy Silverado ad, sat alongside their desperately ill 6-year-old son, whose poor brain is continually wracked by uncontrollable seizures. They begged this committee to give them access to the medical marijuana they say their boy so desperately needed. There were emotional appeals from former soldiers. Policy nerds gave rational testimony citing the cost and inefficiency of marijuana laws.
A small handful of people testified against the law as well, but they were outnumbered 20 to one.
The testimony went on deep into the night. At 1:30 in the morning, Ann Lee, the founder of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, sat in front of the panel, wearing red, white and blue. This would have been her 64th wedding anniversary, she told the panel, but her husband had died the night before. Still, she …Read More