Houston-area Version of the 2014 Texas NORML Voters’ Guide

Cast an informed vote in the 2014 general election


Early voting: October 20-31, 2014 Polls open 7am-7pm
Election day: November 4, 2014 Polls open 7am-7pm
Find your voting location: votetexas.gov/voting/where/


This Voters’ Guide was compiled, published and funded by the Texas Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a 501(c)(4) educational non-profit. Our goal is to help voters make educated decisions when they go to the polls this fall. Texas and over 20 other states in the U.S. cannot collect signatures to get an issue on the ballot for a vote affecting state laws. Additionally, in 1997, Texas passed a state law requiring that all drug laws be enforced and changed at the state, rather than local, level. Because of these limitations, Texans must rely on our state elected officials, specifically our State Representatives and State Senators (so take a close look at yours). Here are the 3 questions we asked the candidates:

  1. Currently, the District of Columbia and 22 other states have medical marijuana programs. This accounts for 47% of the U.S. population. The patients in these states and the District have safe access to their medicine, but patients in Texas are denied such a right. Texas accounts for 12% of the U.S. population. Do you support or oppose changing the law in Texas to allow seriously and terminally ill patients to safely obtain and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it?

  2. Under current Texas law, it is a criminal offense for a person to possess a small amount of marijuana; he or she can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, and fined up to $2,000. Arresting and prosecuting non-violent individuals simply for the possession of small amounts of marijuana clogs our court system, misplaces valuable law enforcement resources, and wastes taxpayer dollars at a cost of $10,000 per arrest. Would you support or oppose a change in the law to make the possession of a small amount of marijuana a civil, not criminal, offense, punishable by a fine of up to $100, but without jail time?

  3. Two states, Washington and Colorado, have replaced their respective prohibitions of marijuana with regulatory structures that treat marijuana similarly to alcohol, including common sense restrictions on advertising and sales. Do you support or oppose making marijuana legal, and treating it similarly to alcohol, for Texans who are 21 years of age and older?


The following table data represents the total number of candidates running of office in Texas, party affiliation, how many of them the questionnaire was sent to, and how many responded.

Party Total Number of Candidates Number Sent to Number of Respondents
Democrat29126932
Republican42238915
Libertarian13213171
Green433415
Independent311
Totals891824134

What to take to the polls?

If you have it, take your voter registration certificate with you when you go to vote. Otherwise, the following are acceptable forms of identification for the November 4, 2014, election:

  • Texas driver’s license;
  • Election ID Certificate issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS);
  • Personal ID card issued by DPS;
  • Texas concealed handgun license;
  • U.S. military ID card (with photo);
  • U.S. citizenship certificate (with photo); or
  • U.S. Passport.

Check out the Addendum following the responses to see opinions of candidates that did not respond to this year’s voters’ guide, but have previously expressed their stance publicly regarding drug laws.

Candidate replies were printed without verification or editing. Texas NORML and Houston NORML does not support or oppose any political party or candidate. The responses do not reflect Texas NORML or Houston NORML’s opinions, views, or stance.


Houston-area Candidates Responses to the Texas NORML Questionnaire

The following candidate responses are limited only to include candidates that are on the ballot for statewide races and candidates in districts located within Harris and surrounding counties. Candidate responses for districts outside the Houston-area are not included in this list. For the full list of candidate responses, please see the original version of the 2014 Texas NORML Voters’ Guide and the PDF Version.

For the following candidates, we also included a photo of the candidate and a link to their campaign website. This information is provided in addition to the original voters’ guide and is only intended to provide the user with additional information about each candidate.


Categories


Texas State Senate

Jim Davis (D) – District 7
Jim Davis (D)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – I would support legislation such as that in Washington and Colorado. The “War on Drugs” has caused us problems here in the US and Mexico.

Whitney Bilyeu (L) – District 7
Whitney Bilyeu (L)
www.whitneybilyeu.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – None

Ron Hale (R) – District 15
Ron Hale (R)
www.ronhalefortexas.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – Support but do not suggest the use of it.

Remarks – It’s a state right’s issue. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

David Courtney (G) – District 17
David Courtney (G)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – I support complete decriminalization

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – None


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Texas State Representatives

B Larry Parr (L) – District 3
B Larry Parr (L)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – Marijuana needs to legal and Texas should let farms grow it to supply the states that need it.

Bob Townsend (L) – District 16
Bob Townsend (L)
www.electbobtownsend.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – The so-called “War on Drugs” is a farce. The US has turned into the Largest Prison Population in the World thanks to it. This course must be reversed.

Branden Lea (L) – District 25
(No photo available)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – Taking government out of our lives is my number one goal, freeing up our tax money and giving it back to the citizens is number two.

Amber Paaso (D) – District 26
Amber Paaso (D)
www.amberpaaso.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – Unsure

Remarks – I would prefer to see how the new laws in Colorado and Washington impact safety and law enforcement before proposed changes here in Texas.

Phil Stephenson (R) – District 85Incumbent
Phil Stephenson (R)
www.philfortexas.com

Medical – no answer

Decriminalization – no answer

Legalization – no answer

Remarks – I AM NOT FOR THIS

Cris Hernandez (L) – District 126
Cris Hernandez (L)
www.hernandezfortexas.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – I support NORML wholeheartedly, bringing marijuana reform to Texas is high on my agenda. The time is now.

Laura Nicol (D) – District 133
Laura Nicol (D)
www.lauranicol.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – Yes for minors without prescriptions

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – Marijuana is medicine with recreational uses. Hemp needs no pesticide & less water than cotton. Legalize, regulate, and tax!

Moiz Abbas (D) – District 135
Moiz Abbas (D)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – Strict law to stop abuse.

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – OPPOSE

Remarks – I oppose any drug which can cause destruction in person’s health. Rather we have to find the ways to educate people.

Morgan Bradford (G) – District 146
(No photo available)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – None

Chris Carmona (R) – District 148
Chris Carmona (R)
www.chriscarmona.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – I strongly believe that marijuana should be treated the same as alcohol.

Al Hoang (R) – District 149
Al Hoang (R)
www.votealhoang.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – Depends on the language of the bill.

Remarks – I support marijuana usage only if it is for medical treatment.


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U.S. Senator

Emily Sanchez (G)
(No photo available)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – As a member of the Green Party and an employee in the medical community I support a more natural remedy for illnesses.


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U.S. Representatives

James B. Veasaw (L) – 2nd District of Texas
(No photo available)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – I WOULD MAKE IT LEGAL, TAKE AWAY DRIVER LICENSE (FOR SOME PERIOD OF TIME) FOR MINORS IN POSSESSION. I WOULD CHANGE THE LAW TO EXPUNGE THE (DRUG) CRIMINAL RECORDS OF ALL NON-VIOLENT DRUG OFFENDERS, WHO CAN SHOW THAT THEY CAN CONDUCT THEMSELVES FOR A SPECIFIC PERIOD OF TIME, AS CITIZENS WITHOUT SOME CRIMINAL ACTIVITY, (NO THIEF’S, ROBBERIES…etc) IF THEY FAIL TO DO SO THE CLOCK RESTARTS, UNTIL THEY CAN SHOW THEY CAN GO A SPECIFIC PERIOD OF TIME WITHOUT SOME CRIMINAL ACTIVITY.

Legalization – SUPPORT MAKING IT LEGAL TO GROW YOUR OWN

Remarks – I WOULD LIKE TO SAY MORE BUT YOUR GOOGLE FORM DOES ALLOW!

Mark Roberts (G) – 2nd District of Texas
Mark Roberts (G)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – believe that the War on Drugs has been an absolute disaster. We would be better served by decriminalizing drug use.

Ken Petty (L) – 8th District of Texas
Ken Petty (L)
www.kenpetty.org

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – I support full decriminalization.

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – The War On Drugs has been and still is a waste of taxpayer money. It is unwinnable and should therefore besimply controlled like alcohol and tobacco.

Bill Kelsey (L) – 10th District of Texas
Bill Kelsey (L)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – I would not want it to be any offense at all.

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – Let us remember all the other uses for hemp — paper, fabric, and so on.

Donald Brown (D) – 14th District of Texas
Donald Brown (D)
www.donbrownforcongress.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – None

John Wieder (L) – 14th District of Texas
John Wieder (L)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – None

Sean Seibert (R) – 18th District of Texas
Sean Seibert (R)
www.seanseibert.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – None

Vincent Duncan (I) – 18th District of Texas
Vincent Duncan (I)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – OPPOSE

Decriminalization – OPPOSE

Legalization – OPPOSE

Remarks – In My Mind We Are An Overly Medicated Society, Prescribed Or Recreational.

Rob Lapham (L) – 22nd District of Texas
Rob Lapham (L)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – Government has no business involving itself in what is an inherently personal decision.

James Stanczak (L) – 29th District of Texas
(No photo available)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – Marijuana is bad, when in the hands of government regulations, and those who would grow and sell it illegally.

Michael Cole (D) – 36th District of Texas
Michael Cole (D)
www.michaelcole.us

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – None

Rodney Veach (L) – 36th District of Texas
(No photo available)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – Reducing/eliminating penalties for marijuana use is important to me.

Hal Ridley, Jr. (G) – 36th District of Texas
(No photo available)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – Legalize

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – Marijuana is a medicinal herb that will be legally available to all adults soon I believe.


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Harris County District Attorney

Kim Ogg (D)
Kim Ogg (D)
www.kim-ogg.com

Medical – As a candidate for DA, I have not taken a position on decriminalization of marijuana because I am running for a position that does not allow me to change the law, only to enforce the law. I am personally supportive of decriminalization of possession of marijuana.

Decriminalization – As a candidate for DA, I have not taken a position on legalizing marijuana because I am running for a position that does not allow me to change the law, only to enforce the law. I am personally supportive of decriminalization of possession of marijuana.

Legalization – As a candidate for DA, I have proposed the most progressive approach to the future of marijuana prosecution in Texas.

Remarks – No additional remarks.


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County Judge

David Collins (G) – Harris County
David Collins (G)
www.dbcgreentx.net

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – I would prefer complete legalization, but find this measure an acceptable compromise.

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – The Green Party in general supports complete legalization of cannabis and investigating legalization of other recreational substances.


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District Judge

Randy Roll (D) – 180th District Court
Randy Roll (D)
www.judgerandyroll.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – Undecided

Remarks – None

Mack McInnis (D) – 185th District Court
Mack McInnis (D)
www.mackmcinnis.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – I like Kim Ogg’s G.R.A.C.E. proposal, cite, release and eventual dismissal.

Legalization – I am not sure that complete repeal is the answer at this time, but some form of legalization is coming.

Remarks – It is outrageous that disabled and terminally ill patients cannot obtain medical marijuana in Texas.

Patricia Kerrigan (R) – 190th District Court – Harris CountyIncumbent
Patricia Kerrigan (R)
www.judgekerrigan.com

Medical – no answer

Decriminalization – no answer

Legalization – no answer

Remarks – As a sitting trial court Judge I don’t believe it is appropriate for me to comment on the law. I act as an impartial and would not want anyone appearing in my court to see me as having any personal opinion on any matter which might come before me

Shawna Reagin (D) – 248th District Court
Shawna Reagin (D)
www.whyjusticematters.com

Medical – no answer

Decriminalization – no answer

Legalization – no answer

Remarks – As a candidate for judge of a criminal court, the Judicial Canons do not permit me to answer these questions, as they ask my opinion

Natalia Oakes (D) – 314th District Court – Family (Juvenile)
Natalia Oakes (D)
www.nataliaforjudge.com

Medical – no answer

Decriminalization – no answer

Legalization – no answer

Remarks – I have answered the questionnaire in the past. This year, as a judicial candidate, I am complying with the Judicial Code of conduct and not commenting on any issues. I will follow the law.


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Governor

Kathie Glass (L)
Kathie Glass (L)
www.kathieglass.org

Medical – Support, ONLY if that is the best we can get.

Decriminalization – Support, ONLY if that is the best we can get.

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – Medicinal or recreational, treat marijuana like beer.


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Lieutenant Governor

Robert Butler (L)
Robert Butler (L)
www.robertdbutler.org

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – I would prefer that marijuana be 100% legal for any purpose. Drug prohibition doesn’t work. I only support the civil fine as a compromise.


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Texas Attorney General

Jamie Balagia (L)
Jamie Balagia (L)
www.420dudefortxag.org

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – As a member of the NORML legal directory, a board member of SANORML and a criminal defense attorney, I fully support the legalization of marijuana.


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Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Ben Sanders (L)
Ben Sanders (L)
www.vote4sanders.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – Repeal all Mandatory Drug Sentencing

Remarks – Personally I don’t like drugs! As much as I don’t like drugs, I really don’t like the failed war on drugs. My stand on Issues vote4sanders.com.


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Texas Agriculture Commissioner

David “Rocky” Palmquist (L)
Rocky Palmquist (L)
www.vote4rocky.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – I will actively lobby the legislature for FULL marijuana legalization. I don’t want to reform the laws, I want to get rid of them altogether!

Kenneth Kendrick (G)
Kenneth Kendrick (G)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – Should not be fined at all for small amounts

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – Requires less water and pesticide. Reduce the use of deadly synthetic pot. Economically a boost. Reduce prison numbers. Reduction in pain killer overdoses.


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Railroad Commissioner

Martina Salinas (G)
Martina Salinas (G)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – I believe more research needs to be done before this can be considered.

Remarks – None


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Justice – Texas Supreme Court

Mark Ash (L) – Place 6
Mark Ash (L)
www.markashfortexas.com

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – None

Don Fulton (L) – Place 7
Don Fulton (L)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – I would further support the governor issuing pardons to all persons who have been convicted solely of misdemeanor possession of marijuana.


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Court of Criminal Appeals

John Granberg (D) – Place 3
John Granberg (D)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – Would prefer to study the effects, if any in Washington and Colorado before making a decision.

Judith Sanders-Castro (G) – Place 4
(No photo available)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – Texas prisons are filled with “drug” offenders, most .people of color, convicted of possession crimes, ruining young lives.

David Newell (R) – Place 9
David Newell (R)
www.newellforjudge.com

Medical – no answer

Decriminalization – no answer

Legalization – no answer

Remarks – As a judicial candidate I can’t really be seen to take an advocacy position either way on particular laws and issues that I might have to review should I be fortunate enough to win in November. If I were to do so, I would forfeit not only my impartiality but also the appearance of it… What I can promise you, however, that as a judge on the Court of Criminal Appeals, I would remain true to my oath to fairly and impartially interpret the laws duly passed by our legislature so long as they do not run afoul of our state or federal constitutions. That goes for existing laws and those passed in the future.


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State Board of Education

Lawrence Allen (D) – District 4Incumbent
Lawrence Allen (D)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – SUPPORT

Remarks – I believe the abuse of marijuana is the problem so it should be treat like other drugs.

Megan Dagata (L) – District 7
Megan Dagata (L)
(No campaign website available)

Medical – SUPPORT

Decriminalization – SUPPORT

Legalization – I haven’t determined how I feel about this, but if it’s not hurting anyone why not. We need the tax dollars. It’s not the worst habit you could have.

Remarks – If you want to regulate it and treat it similar to alcohol fine just don’t bring it to school.


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ADDENDUM

The following candidates did not respond to this year’s survey, but they have a record of taking actions or voicing their opinions publicly regarding cannabis law reform.

Harold V Dutton Jr (D) Texas Representative District 142Incumbent

Representative Dutton has repeatedly submitted bills related to changing the penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marihuana or a synthetic cannabinoid by certain defendants in each session for the last decade. 2013 – http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB184

Alma Allen (D) – Texas Representative District 131Incumbent

In 2013, Representative Allen co-authored the bill related to medical marijuana and the bill related to lowering penalties of marijuana possession.

Beto O’Rourke (D) – Texas Representative District 16Incumbent

In his second term as an El Paso Representative, O’Rourke pushed for a resolution calling for the re-examination of the drug war and co-authored a book on the issues. He signed a letter calling on President Obama to direct the attorney general to soften penalties on marijuana related offenses. He also co-sponsored legislation that would require the federal government to recognize state marijuana laws in states, which have been passed, such as Colorado and Washington.

Debbie Riddle (R) – Texas Representative District 150Incumbent

In 2005, Representative Riddle voted a bill related to changing the penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana out of committee.
http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=79R&Bill=HB254
http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/79R/minutes/html/C2202005041400001.HTM

Wendy Davis (D) – Governor – formerly Senator in District 10

Regarding decriminalization, Davis has said, “we as a state need to think about the cost of that incarceration and, obviously, the cost to the taxpayers as a consequence of it, and whether we’re really solving any problem for the state by virtue of incarcerations for small amounts of marijuana possession.” She also said that if the bill lowering penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marihuana had made it to the Senate floor, she would have voted for it. Regarding medical benefits, Davis stated, “I personally believe that medical marijuana should be allowed for.”

Greg Abbott (R) – Governor – formerly Texas Attorney General

Through multiple sources, we have received this standard letter from Greg Abbott: “Greg Abbott supports current drug policy. Drug use affects every sector of society, straining our economy, our healthcare and criminal justice systems, and endangering the futures of young people. The best methods of combating this problem include a combination of medical treatment and criminal enforcement. Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug (the highest tier of restriction) under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. This means that the substance is recognized by the U.S. government as having a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision. Additionally, due to this classification, it remains illegal under federal law to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense marijuana. Although Eric Holder’s Justice Department has stated that it will not enforce federal law regarding marijuana in some states, federal law (which supersedes Texas law) still clearly prohibits the use of marijuana for either recreational or medical purposes. Even the Obama Administration agrees that marijuana use is harmful and should be discouraged. The White House website notes that:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/ondcp-fact-sheets/marijuana-legalization
Additionally, while some claim that legalizing and taxing marijuana would generate significant tax revenue, a study in Colorado shows that marijuana tax revenues may not cover the incremental state expenditures related to legalization.
See: https://webcom.colostate.edu/coloradofutures/files/2013/04/CFC-Amendment-64-Study-final2.pdf

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