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Texas Republican Party adds support for hemp to platform, medical marijuana another issue though

republican_party_of_texas_elephantlogoThe Texas Republican Party held their convention this past week and on Saturday made their platform final. Both medical marijuana and industrial hemp were on the agenda. So how did they fare?

Members of the organization Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, or RAMP, along with other delegates from across the state, pushed hard to get the topic of cannabis into the convention. Ann Lee, the co-founder of RAMP, framed the issue of medical marijuana as being part of a pro-life stance due to the life enhancing properties experienced by patients who consume cannabis.

There were four separate issues pushed, including legalizing medical marijuana, support for medical marijuana research, lessening penalties for marijuana, and hemp legalization.

RAMP members began by pushing these issues at local precinct conventions which ultimately made their way to the state convention.

Zoe Russell, the assistant executive director of RAMP, was one of many who gave testimony on behalf of these issues.

She provided this recap of events to Texas Cannabis Report:

Testimony was heard in three separate platform subcommittees on Tuesday, June 3. One decided medical cannabis (2-3 against), another decided on reducing criminal penalties (2-3 against), and a third voted unanimously in favor of industrial hemp. RAMP organized people, including myself, to give testimony to the subcommittees, but we were also very happy to meet other Texans who had come out to give testimony because they strongly supported the issue and had also introduced resolutions. One of those Texans was a mom who was driven to take on the cause by her son whose bipolar disorder prescription medications has wracked his liver and body.

The subcommittee hearing testimony about medical cannabis voiced their preference to hear from physicians. Taking that advice, we and other supporters of medical cannabis reached out to a physician out of League City who would be able to testify at the Temporary Platform Committee meeting the following morning.

Allowing 90 minutes for testimony, the physician, mother, and RAMP Co-Founder Ann Lee testified to the Temporary Platform Committee in favor of medical cannabis. Though the resolution failed in subcommittee, a medical cannabis resolution was re-introduced to the full committee by member Bonnie Lugo and put up for a vote. The committee passed this resolution by a 15-14 vote, with the Chairman breaking the tie.

The language was: “We believe that Texans should have legal access to cannabis as a controlled narcotic prescribed by a physician.”

The following day, however, the Permanent Platform Committee changed shape somewhat–mainly due to the immigration question in the platform. Additionally, some committee members changed their vote. Our medical cannabis resolution lost. Committee member Danny Pelton had new language ready to introduce: “We urge the Texas Legislature to allow, encourage, and facilitate the study at our Texas medical schools the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis.”

This resolution easily passed through committee, but did have some strong opposition who filed a minority report that would have stricken the language. Meanwhile, supporters of medical cannabis organized a minority report to reinsert the original language into the report.

On the floor of the general session on Saturday, June 7, the general session opened with candidate speeches and then began with the platform. The very first topic as minority report #1 was the medical cannabis language. There was a physician in favor of the resolution, a physician opposed to the resolution, and Co-Founder of RAMP Ann Lee who testified in front of the auditorium of delegates. A delegate moved to end debate and the body agreed. The vote was clearly opposed to the resolution being inserted into the platform.

Immediately following this vote, minority report #3, the motion to strike the medical cannabis research plank was introduced. I was able to testify against the motion. The delegation had a very close vote. After some discussion on procedure, another vote was taken and was ruled in favor of striking the language.

Ultimately, the group and supporters came away with an agreement to support hemp in the party’s platform, however medical marijuana was voted down.

By: Stephen Carter
Contact Stephen via email at TXCann@gmail.com

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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