Your Voice Matters: One family’s inspiring and courageous story

Cannabis Community: Your Voice Matters!

One family’s inspiring and courageous story

By Nishi Whiteley

Congratulations to Texas cannabis advocates, and loving parents Mark & Christy Zartler for being honored by the national cannabis patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) as the 2018 Courage Award winners!  This recognition is awarded to advocates who have displayed great courage in the face of adversity.  Often ASA Courage awardees are new to advocacy, but due to their passion, they are able to enact great change in a short time. Mark & Christy live in Richardson, Texas with their eighteen-year-old twins Keeley and Kara. You can watch them receiving their award HERE.

Kara suffers from cerebral palsy and severe autism. From an early age she has been hitting herself, often uncontrollably, which has resulted in many broken bones.  Out of sheer desperation for something to calm Kara, the Zartlers tried cannabis.  Miraculously, it stopped her self-harming behavior immediately and has a calming effect on her unlike any other medicine.  The medicines Kara takes were going to kill her liver and kidneys – and eventually her –  in the extreme doses she was taking.  Cannabis made it possible for the dosages to be reduced to a quarter of the pre-cannabis dose.  Another benefit has been weight gain; previously, 49 pounds Kara now is a much healthier 110 pounds.

In 2015, Christy advocated for pro-cannabis legislation in Texas.  However, their advocacy efforts really took off in 2017 after they made a video of Kara having a self-harming fit and showing Mark administering cannabis vapor to Kara.  After posting it on Mark’s Facebook on February 16, 2017, their story went viral with over 1.5 million views. Additional viral syndications of the video have now been seen by over 100 million people.

The Zartlers have risked everything to try to get their child safe, legal access to cannabis.  As a result of their courage to share their story they have been able to open the hearts and minds of people who previously did not believe cannabis is medicine.  Click here to read comprehensive stories about the Zartler family reported in the Washington Post (February 2017) and an updated story about Kara’s progress and the Zartler’s fight for legal guardianship of Kara in Culture Magazine (May 2018).

During the 2017 Texas legislative session Mark & Christy made six trips to the Texas Capitol tirelessly supporting legislation that would have legalized medical cannabis in Texas by expanding the Texas Compassionate Use Program to include significantly more qualifying conditions and removing the THC cap.  To date, they have met personally with eight state and national elected officials, dozens of legislative staff, and testified at four hearings advocating for broad whole-plant cannabis bills.

The Zartlers received the 2018 ASA Courage Award on May 24, 2018 in Washington DC, at the Americans for Safe Access Unity conference.  They spent the three days leading up to the awards ceremony lobbying on Capitol Hill for the CARERs Act which would protect state’s rights, deschedule CBD, provide protections for veterans who use cannabis, reduce barriers to scientific research and provide a banking framework for cannabis businesses among other things.

Each of us has a powerful story to tell. There is someone out there who will see themselves in our stories. Sharing how cannabis does or would benefit us with our friends, family, physicians, and lawmakers helps put a human face on the need for cannabis law reform. We hope the Zartler’s courage will inspire you to join our efforts to advance pro-cannabis legislation in Texas!

How Can Seniors Benefit from Cannabis Use?

How Can Seniors Benefit from Cannabis Use?

The short answer is cannabis reduces the stress of aging, inflammation, pain and depression, and improves sleep, quality of life, and mood.  However, there is much more to it than that!

According to the U.S Census Bureau, 46.8 million or 15 percent of Americans in 2015 were over the age of 65. That number is projected to grow to 21 percent by 2030 to 74 million, and to 98.2 million by 2060. The average life-span in America is 78.  As Americans live longer we have more chronic health problems which translates to more prescriptions, and often creates a different set of problems.  How will we meet the health needs of our aging population? And, more importantly, how do meet the needs of this population in a way that fosters a high quality of life with a high degree of safety?  The answers for many may be using cannabis.

The cannabis plant (marijuana) makes chemicals known as cannabinoids.  They mimic critical chemicals produced by the human body called endocannabinoids, which are important messengers and regulators in what is known as the endocannabinoids system. Miraculously, this system is tasked with bringing the body back into balance or health when certain systems are stressed. That includes playing major roles in cognition, oxidation, neuroprotection, inflammation, hunger, and much more. These innately produced endocannabinoids and the health of one’s endocannabinoid system are critical to how each person’s body manages aging.

Oxidation

Aging is a biological process.  Our ability to age gracefully, or not, boils down to how well our body manages oxidative stress and inflammation.  Oxidation is happening all the time in the body when cells create waste products (free radicals) as a byproduct of energy.

“The body’s response to all this is to use antioxidants to stabilize the free radicals disabling them from doing damage to the DNA in our cells.  However, if there are too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants present in the body, free radicals can go as far as stealing particles from your DNA, which can lead to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, autism, heart disease, Parkinson’s and stroke to name a few. This damage is known as oxidation. This is the same process that rusts metal or turns an apple brown after it is cut.”

Chronic Relief: A Guide to Cannabis for the Terminally & Chronically Ill

The body produces antioxidants and they are in foods like dark chocolate, acai, blueberries and cannabis.  In fact, the patent on cannabis held by the US government calls cannabis a “more powerful antioxidant than vitamins C and E,” two well-known antioxidants. (Click here to learn more about oxidation and cannabis.)

Inflammation

The other critical part of managing the aging process is regulating inflammation, which is a common denominator in most age-related diseases. Cannabinoids happen to be powerful anti-inflammatory agents. When the body’s own endocannabinoids system is unable to bring it back to a state of health or balance, cannabinoids from the cannabis plant can be incredibly useful in regulating inflammation which often results in the control of uncomfortable symptoms including pain, nausea, insomnia, spasticity, depression and more. Most people think of inflammation as something they can see or feel.  That is acute inflammation, like when you cut your finger and it turns red and swells, or you work out and have sore muscles.  Chronic inflammation is usually more dangerous because you often cannot see it or feel it until it manifests into a chronic illness such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, diabetes, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, restless leg syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis.

Cannabis can be restorative in all types of inflammation. It can reduce swelling and pain, serve as a muscle relaxer and relieve tired, aching muscles and joints, and it can work on a cellular level in many ways.  One good example is how cannabinoids fight the accumulation of amyloid plaque in the brain which can ultimately result in Alzheimer’s.  While not a silver bullet for solving the all problems of aging, cannabis use has proven effective for millions of seniors making it possible for them to reduce or stop taking a wide variety of over-the-counter and prescription pain killers, anti-inflammatory agents, anti-depressants, and sleep aids.

An observational study conducted by Zach Klien, a cannabis researcher and documentarian, followed 27 elderly people in an Israeli nursing home who took cannabis for pain relief, appetite, sleeping, spasticity, ataxia, agitation, depression, inflammation and movement impediments.  Collectively, they traded in 39 prescription drugs for their cannabis only regimen.  Patients reported being happier, eating and sleeping better, decreased depression and spasticity, and significantly improved pain relief.  (Click here to see the documentary Prescribed Grass about this group.)

Specific Risks & Benefits of Cannabis for Seniors

Anyone reading this would have to then ask, “What are the risks?” They are surprising low especially when you compare it to opiates, sleeping aids, and other commonly prescribed medications. There are three primary factors that make cannabis a generally safe medicine:

  1. There are not enough receptors in the part of the brain stem that control heart beat and breathing that are activated by cannabinoids, unlike the case with opioids.
  2. Cannabis has a low toxicity profile meaning it is not known to do permanent damage.
  3. No lethal dose has been established.  Most medicines have established lethal doses.  In the many thousands of years of recorded human history, there are no recorded deaths attributed to cannabinoid overdose.

Risks associated with cannabis use are mild.  For seniors, the biggest concerns include loss of balance, dizziness, anxiety, throat irritation, sedation, short term memory loss, and risk of arrest. Uncomfortable side effects can often be mitigated by changing to a different chemovar (think strain) of cannabis or a different cannabinoid and terpene profile. (Terpenes are what give plants their smell – they are therapeutic in their own right and contribute greatly to the effects of a particular plant sample or cannabis product.)

Many seniors find the benefits of cannabis to their quality of life far outweigh the risks. Those benefits may include relaxation, improved memory, sleep, mood, pain relief, euphoria, and more. Additionally, cannabis has been shown to be a vasodilator and a strong neuroprotectant which helps protect against neurodegenerative diseases. Cannabis also opens bronchial passages, is a bone stimulant, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and can help reduce artery blockage.  Not every plant sample will do all these things. Where people have safe access to legal cannabis one can dial in fairly quickly, which chemical profile provides the relief they desire. Until we have national legalization, entirely too many people will be forced to go to the black market where there is usually little information about the products making treating their symptoms a bit of a crap shoot… and illegal.

Opiates

While the opiate crisis has raised awareness about their dangers, still too many people are dying from them. Patients sometimes think if a little is good, a lot must be better, or they mix them with alcohol, sleeping pills, other drugs, or the opioids stop working so people take more. Over 42,200 people died in 2016 due to accidental opiate overdose. Forty percent of those deaths involved a prescription. Among these sobering statistics, there is some good news! In states with functioning cannabis laws, accidental opioid overdose deaths have dropped by 25 percent.

This can likely be attributed to the fact that legal access to cannabis has provided a safer alternative to opioids.  Research shows cannabis and cannabinoid therapeutics boost the effectiveness of opiates making it possible for the patient to take less, reducing risk of addiction and side-effects.  In an article published in the medical journal Nature, (Nielsen et al), the authors report that:

  • 17 of 19 pre-clinical studies demonstrated synergistic effects from opioid-cannabinoid co-administration.
  • The median effective dose (ED50) of morphine administered in combination with the psychoactive cannabinoid THC is 3.6 times lower than the ED50 of morphine alone.
  • The ED50 of codeine administered in combination with THC is 9.5 times lower that the ED50 of codeine alone.

This paper illustrates how cannabinoids increase opioid effectiveness and reduce risk for the patients. Further indications of the effectiveness of cannabis as a pain killer can be seen in research conducted by  Bradford and Bradford in 2017 which shows that among the states with functioning medical cannabis laws, doctors wrote 1,832 less daily doses prescriptions for pain medication.  This is reflected in savings in the Medicare Part D spending, which was reduced by $165 M in 2013 among legal cannabis states.  Had all states had a functioning medical cannabis program by 2013, the savings is projected to have been over $468M.

Summary

Chronically ill and healthy seniors alike find cannabis beneficial to them for very different reasons.  Some people are managing symptoms, others are trying to change disease progression as in the case of cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and seizure disorders.  Others use it to relax and proactively help control inflammation and oxidation. For the sake of better living for all, the time has come for seniors to get informed about the benefits and risks of cannabis and get active in the legalization movement.  We all deserve safe access to cannabis!

Nishi Whiteley, is the author of the book Chronic Relief: A Guide to Cannabis for the Terminally & Chronically Ill. She is also a national speaker, cannabis educator and a board member for the pro-cannabis Foundation for an Informed Texas.  Visit her blog at www.MyChronicRelief.com

Make Your Tax Deductible Donation Before the End of Year!

Make Your Tax Deductible Donation Before the End of Year !
 
 
The mission of the Foundation for an Informed Texas (FIT) is to inform the citizens of Texas about current cannabis laws; the medical, legal, and economic impact of cannabis in Texas; and the legislative process for cannabis policy reform through tools and resources such as seminars, trainings, and on-line resources..
 
Every dollar you contribute will be spent on ensuring our programs and outreach activities can continue and expand!
 
Help lay the foundation for a sustainable legal framework that benefits Texas citizens.

New Issue Brief from the Baker Institute Drug Policy Program

New Issue Brief from the Baker Institute Drug Policy Program:

Houston Area Law Enforcement Leaders Favor Drug Policy Reform.”

Former Chief of the Houston Police Department Charles McLelland, current Chief Art Acevedo, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, and Harris County District attorney Kim Ogg explain why they and most law enforcement leaders in the area believe the War on Drugs has been a failure; what reforms are needed, particularly with regard to marijuana; how new policies inaugurated by D.A. Ogg will work; and what is needed to bring about further changes.

“It is a heartening set of comments from the fourth largest city and third largest county in the country. Perhaps their unanimity with provide a rationale for LE leaders in other cities to develop similar policies and serve as a rationale that legislators can provide to their constituents,” says William Martin, Ph.D., Director, Drug Policy Program.

LINK DESCRIPTION HERE

Texas Marijuana Policy Advocacy Workshops — January 2018

Marijuana policy reform is on the move in Texas thanks to advocates throughout the state. Individuals learning about how to enact law change and how to share personal or professional experiences with lawmakers in a skilled way have brought about unprecedented progress at the Texas Capitol. Let’s keep up the momentum!

We’re hosting a series of events throughout the state to educate individuals who want to effectively advocate for reform in Texas. We’ll be visiting a city near you — register now to secure your seat.

These hands-on workshops will provide an opportunity to:

-review the political process and learn how you fit in,

-learn effective arguments for discussing marijuana law reform, and

-craft your personal message to share.

Once you’ve registered, please invite others who are interested in advancing Liberty by reforming Texas’ unreasonable marijuana laws. You can also follow the workshop series’ live updates on our event page.

Workshop Series Schedule and Registration

 


Midland
Midland Lions Club
Tuesday, Jan. 16
6 – 8 p.m.

Midland — Details and Registration

Amarillo
Amarillo Public Library
Thursday, Jan. 18
6 – 8 p.m.

Amarillo — Details and Registration

Arlington
Pantego Lions Club

Saturday, Jan. 20
1 – 4 p.m.


Arlington — Details and Registration
Nacogdoches
Meet and Greet Only,
No Workshop
Liberty Bell
Tuesday, Jan. 23
6 – 8 p.m.

Details
(No Registration Necessary)

Beaumont
Beaumont Public Library
Wednesday, Jan. 24
6 – 8 p.m.

Beaumont — Details and Registration

Houston
Trini Mendenhall
Community CenterThursday, Jan. 25
6 – 8 p.m.

Houston — Details and Registration

Corpus Christi
The Progressive Center

Friday, Jan. 26
6 – 8 p.m.


Corpus Christi — Details and Registration
Brownsville
(Townhall and Workshop)
Brownsville Public Library

Saturday, Jan. 27
1 – 5 p.m.


Brownsville — Details and Registration

San Antonio
San Antonio Public Library

Monday, Jan. 29
6 – 8 p.m.


San Antonio — Details and Registration

We are proud to be working on this educational content in conjunction with our coalition partners at Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy and Texas NORML.

CBD – Not So Legal in All 50 States

CBD – Not So Legal in All 50 States

Patients Facing Felonies for CBD Possession

by Kyle Hoelscher, Attorney at Law

I am an attorney and I often see trends in law enforcement.  I knew that I would start getting calls on this subject as soon as I began seeing the slick marketing campaigns by internet businesses regarding CBD products.  Salesmen of CBD products called me to discuss legality, headshop and vape store owners then began calling me to see if they can carry it, and finally, people started calling me because they have been arrested for possession of it.  As an attorney, I have to tell everyone that buying, selling or distributing these products is illegal.  I further tell them that they are likely to face some very stiff punishments if any law enforcement officer finds them with any CBD product.

Now, there is little legal argument to be had, CBD is definitely federally illegal.  We know this because it’s plainly stated that any extract of marijuana is a schedule 1 drug.  We also get regular reaffirmations from the DEA, like the new rule published on December 14, 2016 that clarified current law and created a new tracking number for marijuana extracts.  We know this because we have lawmakers trying to pass laws that would make it legal.  And we know this because people are being arrested and imprisoned in Federal Courts for possession and distribution of CBD products.  In Texas, the water is a bit more muddied, since our legislature never actually put Cannabidiol in any legislation.  As far as I can tell, CBD is illegal because it’s a derivative of Marijuana and its illegal because it’s a related chemical to CBN (which is specifically named).  I would love to have a test case on the subject, the problem is that I would need to find someone who get arrested with 100% pure CBD.  This is something that doesn’t exist in the CBD products being sold.  You see, if it has even a few molecules of THC in the oil, it will test positive for THC on a roadside test and later, on a mass spectrometer.  If any THC exists in the product, the whole thing is a controlled substance and the whole weight of the product is used to determine punishment.

Let me relate two real life cases that are currently sitting in my office.  These are regular people with no criminal histories, just going about their day with the belief that the CBD they owned was legal.  The products they purchased were sold openly in a brick and mortar store.  They say right on the label, “Contains CBD” and “0% THC.”  Looking at the manufacturer’s website, it claims that these products are “legal in all 50 states” and then gives an expansive explanation on their legality.  It talks about hemp and Section 7606 of the Farm Bill.  To any ordinary person, this seems to make a lot of sense.

Along comes Jane Doe.  Jane has arthritis pain and uses CBD to reduce the pain she feels on a daily basis.  Jane went into a local vape shop one day and picked up a refill of CBD oil.  With that errand done, she drives home for an evening with her family.  Halfway home, she is pulled over for having no light on her license plate.  The police officer begins the traffic stop as normal, after all, Jane has a driver’s license and insurance.  But, she also has her CBD oil on the seat next to her.  The police officer spots it and asks to examine it.  Jane didn’t give it a second thought.  To Jane, this product is legal, so she hands it to the officer and tells him its CBD oil.  The officer throws it in a roadside marijuana test pouch and lo and behold, it tests positive for THC.  She is arrested, her car is searched and impounded, she is held on a $20,000 bond, and charged with a 2nd degree felony, punishable by 2-20 years in prison.  Her case is not yet resolved, but she now lives with a curfew, monthly drug testing, and reporting requirements, luckily we were able to keep her from having a GPS tracker on her ankle.  Maybe their website meant legal in 49 states?

John Doe (not related) has a child with a persistent MSRA infection.  This child is 3 years old.  John has put this child on every side-effect laden drug the pharmaceutical companies have to offer.  Finally after all avenues were explored, he was told by doctors that his child will either clear the infection, or die.  At his wits end, he finds some information that CBD could help his child’s immune system fight off the drug resistant bacteria.  So, he goes to a store and buys it right off the shelf.  He administers it to his child and like a miracle, the MSRA clears up soon after.  He kept his child on this regimen until a doctor gave him the all clear.  He too, was driving his car.  He too was stopped for a minor traffic infraction and he also went to jail for possession of a controlled substance.  The reason I pick this case is because at some point he mentions to the police officer that he has given the medicine to his child.  A week later Child Protective Services was at his door.  He temporarily lost custody of his child and is now facing both possession and child endangerment charges.  All of this over something which is supposedly legal in all 50 states.

I end this article with a disclaimer.  I support CBD.  I have directly seen positive effects that CBD has.  I have heard countless anecdotal stories regarding the medical benefits of CBD and many other cannabinoids.  I spend a lot of time fighting so that people can have access to it and I support anyone who refuses to obey unjust laws.  All that being said, I am ethically bound to give competent legal advice based on current law.  Sadly, CBD is currently illegal.  John and Jane Doe both know it now, but they took the hard route.  Don’t let that happen to you, stay safe out there.

–Kyle Hoelscher, Attorney at Law
Bar no. 24066508
Law Office of Kyle Hoelscher
505 S. Water St., Suite 525
Corpus Christi, TX 78401
ph# (361) 765-2907

 

The Truth About Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil Access in Texas

The Truth About Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil Access in Texas

Know the Law!

By Jax Finkel, Executive Director

The cannabis plant has over 113 recognized cannabinoids, with Cannabidiol (CBD) being one of them. CBD oil is generally defined as containing a minimum of 10% CBD and a maximum of 0.3% THC (another cannabinoid found in the plant). Since cannabis is a synergistic plant, it is best to extract this oil from cannabis sativa so that the terpenes and flavonoids can also be included. However, there are some forms of CBD oil that are extracted from industrial hemp.

Texas is in the process of rolling out the Texas Compassionate Use Program, which would allow for state sanctioned Low-THC oil (defined as <10% CBD and >0.5%THC). It is very similar in percentages to CBD oil. This Low-THC oil will only be available to patients who have intractable epilepsy and have 2 doctor’s recommendations. Until the law is changed, only these patients will be served by the program. There is no legal hemp growing program in Texas and therefore CBD oil from hemp is not available.

There are many claims that CBD oil is legal in all 50 states. However, the DEA has come out and stated that marijuana and it’s extracts and concentrates are all schedule 1 drugs. The Controlled Substance Act states, “The term ‘marihuana’ means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.” The DEA has gone on to clarify that “For practical purposes, all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids. Although it might be theoretically possible to produce a CBD extract that contains absolutely no amounts of other cannabinoids, the DEA is not aware of any industrially-utilized methods that have achieved this result.”

Additionally, these CBD oils are not from state-sanctioned programs and not subject to the same standards and testing. In fact, the FDA has put out a warning letters to several companies regarding making unfounded claims regarding their products as well as not having the actual percentages reflected accurately on labeling once they were tested. The labeling issue is backed up by findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which found that only 30 percent of the products contained percentages of CBD that were within ten percent of the amount advertised and some products also contained detectable amounts of THC, despite being promoted as THC-free. The FDA has also decided that CBD products are excluded from the dietary supplement definition and also deemed that CBD products are not legal for interstate commerce.

This means that CBD oils are still considered a schedule 1 drug and therefore not legal for sale in Texas. While there does not currently seem to be a massive number of arrests or raids in Texas, there are reports of raids and citizens facing serious time in jail for possession of the extract oil. Proceed with caution, Texans!

Please support our education efforts by making a tax-deductible donation today!

Resources:

Texas Compassionate Use Program Information

Controlled Substance Act Sec 802(16)

DEA Rules – 2016

FDA Warning Letters – Unfounded Claims

FDA Warning Letters – Labeling

Marcel O. Bonn-Miller, PhD – JAMMA 2017

FDA Stance FAQs

Texas Compassionate Use Program Update

Texas Compassionate Use Program Update:

Second License Awarded and Physicians Are Registering

By Jax Finkel, Executive Director

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has granted the second license to grow, process and sell low-THC oil under the Texas Compassionate Use Program. Consortium Texas was the first company to receive a license and now Compassionate Cultivation joins the list. These companies are based out of Schulenburg, TX and Austin, TX respectively. DPS is statutorily required to grant a minimum three licenses by September 1st, 2017, a date which has already passed.

It is reported that 7 physicians have now registered with the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT). In order to be allowed to prescribe low-THC oil to patients, physicians must go through the application and registration process. Physicians must have at least one of the following certifications from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology or American Board of Clinical Neurophysiology:  Epilepsy, Neurology, Neurology with special qualifications in child neurology, Neurophysiology. Once approved, the physician can prescribe to bona fide patients, whom the physician will add to the registry along with their prescription information. Then the patient or their legal guardian will be able to get the prescription from any licensed dispensary.

While physicians are willing to join the program, some have voiced concerns over the prescription language of the statute and program. Other states with functioning programs use the wording “recommends” due to the Contant v Walters ruling. Dr. Paul Van Ness of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, an epileptologist recently told the Houston Press, ‘He’s willing to join the program, with a big caveat: “So long as I can do so legally.” … he isn’t sure how the prescription language will be handled, noting that “you pretty much have to be a researcher at a university” to prescribe Schedule I drugs. “I hope they work it out soon,” he said. “I can’t imagine doctors would risk their medical licenses or DEA numbers to do this.” ‘ In the same article, Rusty Payne, a DEA spokesman, remained adamant that a physician could not prescribe marijuana without breaking the law. “Doctors cannot prescribe Schedule I substances,” Payne said.

Resources:

DPS’s Announcement

Austin’s Statesman Coverage of Granting Second License

Official CURT Website

Physician Registration Process

Conant v. Walters, 309 F.3d 629 (9th Cir., 2002)

Houston Press Coverage of Program

Marijuana Criminalization in Texas – At a Glance

Marijuana Criminalization in Texas – At a Glance

by Carlos Caro, Secretary 

Marijuana criminalization in Texas stretches back to El Paso in 1915 with a city ordinance outlawing its use. Ever since then marijuana criminalization has spread in the State of Texas. This, in part, has helped fuel the state in having the largest prison population in the country. It costs the state and taxpayers roughly three billion dollars per year on prisons, and a cost of approximately ten thousand dollars per marijuana arrest.

According to 2015 DPS Arrest statistics, 61,748 individuals were arrested for marijuana possession. Of those 26,756 were between the ages of 17-24. 43%  of those arrested for marijuana possession were in their late teens and early twenties, an age of most high school and college students.

If you take a look at the attached data from the McAllen Police Department, their arrest statistics somewhat mirror DPS arrest data for the state when it comes to the age range of those affected by marijuana criminalization, namely those between the ages of 15-24. What we notice from DPS and McAllen PD data is that high school and college aged youth are being heavily affected by criminalization, which has disastrous effects in the long-term with regards to education and employment opportunities. We also notice from DPS data that marijuana possession arrests account for roughly 52% of all arrests for drug possession, also considering the age demographic that this impacts the most.

Saddling young people with a Class B criminal misdemeanor is detrimental to their future and to a productive, taxpaying, Texas workforce. As a Texan it is frustrating to think that taxpayer money, is being fruitlessly spent in the maintenance of marijuana’s criminalization, but as an educator it is heartbreaking to think of the continued prospect of our youth being shut out from meaningful participation in our Texas workforce by being penalized with a criminal record.

Resources:

Financial Costs – Chris Mai and Ram Subramanian, “The Price of Prisons: Examining State Spending Trends 2010-2015”, Vera Insitute of Justice

Financial Costs – Alexander DeLuca M.D., “Crimes of Indescretion: Marijuana Arrests in the United States Executive Summary

Texas Arrest Data

2016 McAllen Crime Report

 

Introducing Foundation for an Informed Texas!

Introducing Foundation for an Informed Texas!

We are excited to officially announce the launch of our new 501(c)3 non-profit, Foundation for an Informed Texas (FIT)! We are focused on educating the citizens of Texas on current marijuana laws, legislative and elective processes, available legislative options as well as the physiological aspects and socio-economic impacts of cannabis.

FIT now begins our mission to educate the citizens of Texas about current marijuana laws, the legislative process required to change them, and the benefits to society and medicine for doing so. We have put together some informational items on this website and will create and share more content over time. We are also in the planning phase of an education workshop series. Stay tuned for more of our plans!

We have established a wildly qualified team of Directors to spearhead the organization.  They are as follows:

  • Executive Director, Jax Finkel – has been the Executive Director of Texas NORML since 2015 and previously served as Deputy Director for 3 years.

  • Deputy Director, Amanda Berard – is a nurse and veteran who is doing her PhD thesis on veterans and medical cannabis.

  • Secretary, Carlos Caro – is an educator who did his master degree on federal marijuana prohibition.

  • Resource Director, Nishi Whiteley – is a published medical cannabis author and researcher.

  • Treasurer, Lisa Wise – a software guru and account director.

We believe that together we have a sound foundation to expand our existing educational programs and create new opportunities.

However, we need your help to succeed! A key part of this organization is its 501(c)3 status so that we can take tax-deductible donations, apply for grants and more. This will be paramount to completing the next 2 years of our 5-year plan. We need to raise $80k by January 2018 to be able to execute our current timeline plan.

Therefore, the FIT Board invites you to make a inaugural tax-deductible contribution to the Foundation for an Informed Texas and be one of our founding funders! This will get us going and enable us to search out grants and other fundraising opportunities to expand our educational reach. We also would like to request that you share this information with anyone you know who wants to support cannabis education.




You can donate online, or send a check made out to Foundation for an Informed Texas to our registrant’s office at 10226 Missel Thrush Dr, Austin, TX 78750 . Or you can send via Paypal to [email protected].

Thank you for your time and consideration!

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