Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A Tea Partier rolls up a 'legalize' bill

I'm still as skeptical as I was two weeks ago, but perhaps the tide is turning faster than I think.

State. Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, filed a bill Tuesday that he says “represents a comprehensive repeal of marijuana prohibition in Texas.”

The bill would remove all references to marijuana offenses in the law, Simpson said in an interview with the Statesman.

“I am proposing that this plant be regulated like tomatoes, jalapeños or coffee,” Simpson said. “Current marijuana policies are not based on science or sound evidence.”

Did a conservative Republican just say 'science'?  Lawd jesus.  And he called out the Guvnah, too.

Simpson, who said he has never touched marijuana, said passage of his proposal doesn’t amount to a pipe dream.

“The governor said he wanted to expand liberty,” Simpson said. I wanted to give him an opportunity to do that. It’s not just about guns.”

Even CPAC and Ted Cruz have suddenly been enlightened.

You had to look waaaay down in the coverage of the weekend CPAC hoedown, but there it was — support for libertarian or states-rights approaches to marijuana laws. From Politico’s coverage:

The majority of respondents supported some level of marijuana legalization, while only 27 percent said pot should remain illegal, an indicator that the conference retains its libertarian streak.

The recent Texas Tribune/UT poll also showed strong support for pot-law reform among conservatives.

The only people they listen to have spoken, and they -- well, Simpson -- has responded. But here come the doubters.

But do these numbers move the needle in the Capitol, where lawmakers will hear bills to OK pot for medicinal use and/or take it out of the criminal code? That’s still a hard vote for Republicans to make, and they rule in Austin.

Consider the bedrock of the state GOP: the suburban lawmaker. I did a roundup of their responses to a DMN voters guide questionnaire last year. With the exception of Rep. Tan Parker of Flower Mound, incumbent Republicans were decidedly status quo on Texas drug laws. I expect those views to prevail in this year’s lawmaking session. [...] Actually, I know the answer to that question: It’ll take more time and a bunch more older people (my demographic) dying off. Support for marijuana reform skews younger, and the Texas GOP will have to get on board or risk losing a chunk of this demographic.

Was a play for the younger vote behind Ted Cruz’s response to a pot question that Sean Hannity asked him at CPAC? Like a well-rehearsed states-rights guy, Cruz said Colorado’s laws should be up to Coloradans. That, according to various reports (including this from The Washington Post) was a position switch for the Texas senator.


I doubt that Cruz’s new position was driven by a youth play — though CPAC skews young — as much as it was an anti-Washington statement. I think Cruz was angling to occupy some of the ground on pot where you would have already found Rand Paul and Rick Perry.

Paul has been a change agent on drug laws. That gives him an anti-status quo dynamism that Cruz covets.

Last week Cruz was widely quoted that he fancied himself a “disruptive app to politics.” He couldn’t really be that and defend Nixon’s tired old war on drugs at the same time.

Don't forget the "God don't make no junk" part as an appeal to the last bastion of opposition to the devil weed: the Texas Talibaptists.

"All that God created is good, including marijuana. God did not make a mistake when he made marijuana that the government needs to fix," he said. "Let's allow the plant to be utilized for good -- helping people with seizures, treating warriors with PTSD, producing fiber and other products -- or simply for beauty and enjoyment. Government prohibition should be for violent actions that harm your neighbor -- not of the possession, cultivation, and responsible use of plants."

Let's watch and see if it moves as fast as the gun bills.

Kuff has more.

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