Texas Republican Rep. Tan Parker supports medical marijuana, no jail time for small amounts
In a response to a Dallas Morning News survey, Rep. Tan Parker signal his support for medical marijuana in Texas.
The Republican from Flower Mound states that he’d be open to a tightly written medical marijuana amendment which could be put on the ballot in 2015 if passed by the legislature and signed by the governor for voters to approve.
Further, in an interview with the paper’s editorial board Parker said he would support legislation eliminating jail time for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Here is Parker’s answer to the medical marijuana question on the online questionnaire:
Like so many other Texans, I have a first-hand understanding of how difficult it can be to meet unique healthcare challenges within our existing framework. I do support new and innovative approaches to treating those who are terminally or otherwise extremely ill. For example, I recently attended a legislative seminar on the topic of allowing terminal patients who have exhausted all other treatment options the ability to employ experimental treatments that are still in the testing phase and not yet approved for wide use.
I do think it is important that we grant those whose lives are at risk every treatment option possible to cure their condition and live a productive life. Medical marijuana is a topic that has been discussed in the Texas Legislature since I was first elected in 2006. Like any other issue of public policy, it is one that is always evolving and I look forward to continuing to compile new data and information on the topic.
However, I am currently considering support for tightly written legislation that would provide marijuana on a strict prescription basis for very specific conditions that have clearly demonstrated medical benefits, such as epilepsy.
In an interview with the paper he further stated:
When you see children battling epilepsy, and you see the horrific seizures that they’re going through, and I’ve got verifiable scientific evidence that shares with me that this can really make a difference in the quality of life for these children, I find it to be inhumane on my part to not look seriously at how we can create and craft [a bill] very tightly for specific conditions.
This is not, by any means, Tan Parker opening up the world to marijuana or decriminalization, broadly.
He also signaled his support for getting rid of jail time for possession of small amounts by saying:
The first determination for me is, is this person a risk to society? Our jails are there for a reason, and that is to protect us.
The reality is, for those individuals who don’t have a violent behavior per se, who have an addictive problem to whatever substance it may be, it seems to me what we are doing in many ways — I’m speaking broadly — but it seems to me we are putting a scarlet letter “A” on their chest, we are taking them away from their family in many cases, we are putting them in a prison facility for six months to a year. They are being educated by the best and brightest in their industry, so they really learn how to become a criminal, where perhaps they weren’t before.
Then we try to pluck them out of that environment and bring them back home, into society, And what are we able to accomplish? Well, we know how hard it is for them to get back and get beyond that scarlet letter “A” on their chest.
In my mind, we need to look at more intelligent ways so we don’t identify them and give them that burden throughout life. And, I don’t think that six months or a year prison sentence is really making a difference. I really don’t. … What they really need is aggressive therapy in order to change their addictive behavior.
This leaves the question unanswered though of whether or not he would support forcing people into rehab for marijuana.
A marijuana reform group based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area released a statement on their Facebook page about Parker’s stance, saying “our board members met with him and he was truly sympathetic to the plight of a members child. We believe that Representative Parker is 100% serious about his comments and is going to stand behind his word. You should call his office and thank him for his courage on this issue.”
Get the full interview here.