AUSTIN, TX — A “constitutional conservative” Texas lawmaker has introduced a bill to completely end marijuana prohibition in Texas.
The proposal goes beyond marijuana legalization efforts in other states, which seek to tax and regulate the plant, instead striking any mention of marijuana or cannabis from state law, effectively allowing pot to be regulated like “tomatoes, jalapeños or coffee.”
The bill, House Bill 2165, was filed Monday by a conservative Republican from East Texas.
“Current marijuana policies are not based on science or sound evidence, but rather misinformation and fear,” says bill sponsor Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview). “All that God created is good, including marijuana. God did not make a mistake when he made marijuana that the government needs to fix.”
“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,” Simpson added. “Government prohibition should be for violent actions that harm your neighbor—not of the possession, cultivation, and responsible use of plants.”
If passed, the bill would repeal dozens of Texas laws related to marijuana prohibition. Instead of being considered an illegal drug, cannabis would be regulated like any common crop in the Lone Star State.
It was no coincidence that the bill was introduced on March 2nd — Texas Independence Day.
“Today, in celebration of Texas Independence, I filed House Bill 2165 which would repeal marijuana prohibition in Texas,” Simpson said in a Facebook post Monday. “We can’t fix all of the past wrongs caused by prohibition, but at least we can stop perpetuating them.”
Rep. Simpson appeals to conservatives, Christians, and fellow Republicans to support his proposal in a column posted at TribTalk.org, aptly titled “The Christian Case for Drug Law Reform:”
As a Christian, I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same.
In fact, it’s for this reason that I’m especially cautious when it comes to laws banning plants. I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.
Regrettably, that’s not the course we have pursued on more than one occasion. In the name of protecting the public, certain substances have been declared evil and contraband. So evil are these substances that state and federal agents are empowered to enforce laws with little to no regard for constitutional protections of individual rights, the sanctity of one’s home or the right to travel freely.
You would think that our country’s history with alcohol prohibition — an era marked by bootlegging, organized crime, government corruption and a rise in crime in general — would have prevented us from making the same mistake again.
But our current “war on drugs” policies, though well intended, have accomplished the exact opposite, spurring a proliferation of ever-changing exotic designer drugs and a disregard for constitutional protections in the name of eliminating drugs at any cost. Just think of no-knock warrants, stop-and-frisk, civil asset forfeiture and billionaire drug lords.
The time has come for a thoughtful discussion of the prudence of the prohibition approach to drug abuse, the impact of prohibition enforcement on constitutionally protected liberties and the responsibilities that individuals must take for their own actions.
The Bible warns about excessive drinking, eating and sleeping (Proverbs 23:21), but it doesn’t ban the activities or the substances or conditions associated with them — alcohol, food and fatigue. Elsewhere, feasting and wine are recognized as blessings from God.
Scripture stresses respect for our neighbor’s liberty and conscience, moderation for all and abstinence for some.
Should we be concerned for our friends and neighbors who abuse a substance or activity? Yes, we should help them through sincere and voluntary engagement, but not with force and violence.
Is there a place for prohibition? Yes, a prohibition of aggression (Romans 13). Our laws should prohibit and penalize violent acts. This is the jurisdiction of the magistrates under the new covenant — harm to one’s neighbor.
Civil government should value everything God made and leave people alone unless they meddle with their neighbor.
Rep. Simpson says his bill is ideal of Republican beliefs in small government and individual liberties, and he is not alone.
“It disturbs me greatly that Republicans would distort the principles of small government, fiscal responsibility, and personal liberty in such a way that they could support the failed principle of marijuana prohibition any longer,” states 85 year old Houston resident Ann Lee, co-founder and executive director of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition.
“Prohibition goes against the fundamental principles of the Republican party. Prohibition is against the fundamental principle of freedom,” Lee says. “When you look at the facts, it’s not conservative to support prohibition.”
While Simpsons says that his bill has support by many of his Republican peers that support the repeal of marijuana prohibition and consider the Drug War an “abysmal failure,” the measure is expected to face significant opposition from — you guessed it — law enforcement.
Citing the “gateway myth,” AJ Lauderback, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Association of Texas, said that the organization will oppose Simpson’s bill, and as well as “any bill that wishes to legalize marijuana in the State of Texas.”
But Simpson argues that law enforcement should embrace the potential change in policy.
“We should use our resource in law enforcement to deal with murder, with rape, with theft, but just possessing a substance that God made is not wrong,” Simpson says. “Putting people in prison and teaching them a whole lot about crime, separating them from the family, taking away the breadwinners simply for possessing a plant that God made—that’s wrong.”