Room At The Table: Expanding A Message of Hope and Reform
by Carlos Caro
In order to expand cannabis reform within the state we must reach out to folks who have typically been on the outside of reform efforts due to perceived differences in the cannabis reform movement and conservative ideological beliefs. While garnering support for cannabis reform isn’t difficult in traditionally liberal areas of the state or among libertarian minded individuals, the fact of the matter is that Texas as a whole is not liberal or libertarian. In recognizing this political reality, it is of the highest importance that we tailor our message to reach a conservative Christian audience.
Ideas such as fiscal responsibility, limited government and personal freedom are all core conservative principles as to why one should support cannabis law reform and it’s important that we convey this message loud and clear. Former Republican State Representative David Simpson introduced pro-reform legislation during the 2015 legislative session that would have essentially legalized cannabis across Texas. Former Representative Simpson’s rationale with introducing such sweeping legislation in 2015 was one with religious overtones. Simpson argued that cannabis was created by God and was not a mistake that government needed to fix. Recognizing that cannabis policy was not based on science or reason, Simpson blended sound scientific rationale with religious views to take an issue that was largely relegated to liberals and libertarians and thrust it in the middle of conservative Christian circles in an attempt to help shift the Overton window. It seems to have worked. According to recent polls from the Texas Tribune and Gallup a majority of Republicans support cannabis law reform, ranging from a reduction of punishment for cannabis possession to full legalization. This year the Republican Party of Texas endorsed platform planks that included endorsing cannabis decriminalization, an expansion of the state’s medical cannabis program and a call for the federal government to change cannabis’ classification. In continuing to reach out to our conservative brothers and sisters on this vital issue, groups such as Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition and Clergy for a New Drug Policy make a case for cannabis law reform from political and religious perspectives, respectively. Foundation for an Informed Texas has been making a concerted effort to reach rural Texans with cable TV news commercials airing on conservative networks and regions of our state, in addition to holding educational events and seminars.
In using the principles of limited government, personal freedom and fiscal responsibility along with a religious perspective for reform we will let our conservative brethren know that there is room at the table for them and their views. Cannabis law reform is a trans-partisan issue. No longer relegated to the fringes of political discourse, cannabis has become a mainstream American issue dealing with basic questions of liberty and medical freedom. To that end, we must all be willing to accommodate and envision differing perspectives as to why one must rally around cannabis law reform if we are to make strides in the 2019 legislative session and beyond.