Rep. David Simpson loses run-off for Texas Senate seat
The Republican representative who introduced a full marijuana legalization bill in the Texas House has lost his bid for state senate in a run-off election.
Rep. David Simpson of Longview looks to lose his Republican primary election for Texas Senate District 1 against Rep. Bryan Hughes of Mineola with Hughes currently leading with 72 percent.
In a 4-way race back in March, Hughes took 48 percent of the vote to Simpson’s 21 percent. James Brown finished in third place, 13 votes shy of tying Simpson. Fourth place finisher Mike Lee took 9 percent and later endorsed Simpson.
Hughes gained the endorsement of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R) in the final days of the election and received support from him with Cruz recording a message that was sent out to voters. Hughes also enjoyed support from several top elected officials in the Republican Party, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and former Gov. Rick Perry.
Simpson introduced HB 2165, which would have fully legalized cannabis in Texas, during the 2015 legislative session. The bill would go on to pass through committee on a 5-1 vote, however Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, who serves as chair of the Calendars Committee, refused to schedule the bill for a vote by the full house. It later died in that committee as the session came to a close.
Simpson came under attack for his stance on cannabis, though remained strong in his position, stating that God had not made a mistake with marijuana. Several medical patients, including families who have epileptic children, reached out to Simpson on the issue of medical cannabis, which prompted him to take action on the matter.
On average, Texas arrests around 70,000 people per year for marijuana-related offenses, most of which are for simple possession.
Hughes will not face a Democratic opponent in the general election later this year.
Hughes was one of three co-sponsors of HB 507 in 2015, which would have changed marijuana possession of an ounce or less from a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $2,000 in fines, to a civil penalty with a fine of $250 and no criminal conviction. He also supported the Compassionate Use Act, which legalized CBD medical cannabis.
In referring to HB 507, Hughes has stated “If we can intercept these people before they get in the system and before they have a real drug problem and get them some help and keep them out of that criminal justice system then everybody wins, It’s good for them, it saves the tax payers money, everybody wins.”
He however refused to support Simpson’s bill, but acknowledged that it helped start a necessary discussion.
According to a message sent by Hughes responding to his stance on decriminalizing marijuana, he stated “No. Reforms like someone with a small amount and getting them treatment – trying to keep them from [becoming] hooked on drugs before we put them in the criminal justice system – we should be looking at that. But legalization? No way. No Colorado-style system. No legalization.”
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