That’s a harsh headline, but I think that Texas Rep. David Simpson can understand the importance of a real Eye Catcher. He’s gotten a heap of warm exposure in the press lately, and he’s done it by filing a bill that would effectively end marijuana prohibition in the Lone Star State – which is something that I would, in all honesty, really like to approve of.
It’s been seen as a shocker, because he’s not only a Texan member of the Republican party, but he’s also a prominent figure of its Tea Party arm, which is the arm that gets sunburned and cancerous from hanging outside the driver’s side window during our lengthy summer seasons.
On the surface, it really is quite a shocker: Why would a Tea Party member put forth a bill that would end marijuana prohibition, a pursuit generally left to the hedonistic Left? Well, according to an editorial written by Simpson for The Dallas Morning News, the reasoning for the bill is that it’s God’s Will that marijuana be regulated the same as any ordinary tomato would be:
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.
His editorial isn’t long, but six of its eleven paragraphs discuss the legality of marijuana through the lens of Biblical scripture. I’ve oftentimes listened to evangelical radio and reeled at the ministers’ abilities to come up with so much material – it seems to never end, and, if nothing else, you have to admire their creativity.
“So when you’re at the grocery store, and your cart hits somebody else’s, fret about it not – such is the teaching of Philippians 4:13,” is how one two-hour-long sermon might be summed up. These stretches have always impressed me.
Davis’s editorial isn’t much different from drivel like that, save for the fact that, due to its waxing on a subject like Reefer, it’s been covered by everybody from The New York Times to the Tyler Morning Telegraph.
Many Texan Tea Partiers have acted flabbergasted by the news, claiming that it goes against the party’s platform and flies in the face of his jurisdiction’s beliefs, but the reality is that they wish they’d thought of this God Angle first, and for good reason: It’s made him wildly popular.
My Facebook feed was hit with a steady flow of links to stories covering Simpson’s filing of H.B. No. 2165. It’s that special brand of news that’ll have people posting links to the story three years from now: Texan Tea Party Rep. Files Bill to Legalize Marijuana, Say’s “God Don’t Make No Junk. The posters’ comments are always of the same ilk, some variation of “Well, whatever gets it legalized!” or “I never thought I’d agree with a Tea Partier!”
And sure, why not be happy about it? Who cares if he’s delivered an argument for marijuana being unregulated that could be extrapolated to support things like legal anthrax, or keeping a pack of wild hyenas chained up in your backyard? Hell, marijuana’s a great plant, and the man deserves our love and support – forget the fact that he’s dangerously delusional. The means justify the end, right?
Here’s the rub, though: The bill won’t pass, because it’s a lazily slapped together piece of trash. It’s the sort of thing that a first year law student might turn in for a homework assignment after downing a 750ml bottle of Goldschläger the night before, and only remembering that they were supposed to turn in a mock bill halfway en route to their class. The only difference is that the student would receive an F, whereas Simpson’s work has earned him exposure on the highly coveted National Stage.
The bill consists of a list of amendments to the Texas Penal Code, by way of drawing lines through the word “marihuana,” which is Ye Olde English for “marijuana.” Blindly crossing the word of out the law is literally the extent of the bill’s strategy, with no text or clarification of any sort added to any portion of the law, with the exception this half-mad bit at the end:
“SECTIONA27.AA(a) An offense under Section 481.120 or 481.121, Health and Safety Code, may not be prosecuted after the effective date of this Act. If on the effective date of this Act a criminal action is pending for an offense under one of those sections, the action is dismissed on that date. However, a final conviction for an offense under one of those sections that exists on the effective date of this Act is unaffected by this Act. (b)AAThe change in law made by this Act applies to an offense under Section 481.122, 481.125, or 481.126, Health and Safety Code, or Section 71.023, Penal Code, committed before, on, or after the effective date of this Act, except that a final conviction for an offense that exists on the effective date of this Act is unaffected by this Act. SECTIONA28.AAThis Act takes effect September 1, 2015.”
I might be misunderstanding the text, but it seems to be saying that, if you’re facing marijuana charges, you should really push for a trial date that isn’t September 1, 2015.
With this bill’s passing, a lot of fun opportunities would open up to Texans. For instance: The amendment to Section 15(d), Article 42.12 – the bit that deals with drugs at schools – would allow students to freely swap nugs with each other during their lunch breaks. High school students could even hot box their cars before class, and walk into school reeking of Strawberry Cough, and law enforcement couldn’t say shit about it, because the law no longer mentions marijuana in any capacity.
Which is fine by me – but simply removing marijuana from the Texas Penal Code, with no new framework designed for its possession/sale/use/taxation, means that Greg Abbott will play point guard for the Dallas Mavericks before H.B. No. 2165 gets anybody else’s vote but Simpson’s in the Texas House of Representatives.
In fact: With the right odds, I’d wager that this bill won’t even get Simpson’s vote. Why would he bother voting for it? Surely he knows that it’s junk – it clearly wasn’t designed to be something that’s even halfway considerable.
This seemingly shocking move is reminiscent of a phenomenon that I became obsessed with last January, when Colorado went recreational with their marijuana, and there was a bubble of massive proportions in the brand new Cannabis Sector of the stock market.
For months after that state’s bold middle finger to prohibition, any fraud penny stock that had spent the last decade lying about being an energy company would put out a press release stating that they were “entering the cannabis sector,” and their stock price would triple within hours. Every white collar con-artist in the stock world was suddenly The Next Big Thing in the marijuana industry. It was Free Money for anybody with enough smarts to shovel nonense into investors’ faces.
That seems like nothing but a weird tangent, but there’s a subtle relevance, because marijuana is now hitting national politics like it hit the stock market just over a year ago. With politicians now finally realizing that polls are showing the majority of the country favoring marijuana reform, more and more Strict Conservatives will be hopping on the weed bandwagon and hoping the country fails to remember a time, not long ago, when they supported harsh mandatory sentences for anybody caught with a joint under their car seat. According to NORML:
Eight out of ten Americans support the medical use of marijuana, and nearly 3 out of 4 Americans support a fine-only (no jail) for recreational smokers. 58% of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana, according to the most recent Gallup poll — which is the highest percentage support ever reported in a nationwide scientific poll.
With numbers like that, things like “party platforms” are quickly forgotten – every white collar con-artist in politics wants the whole country to know that they’re The Next Big Thing in marijuana reform. Sure, instead of press releases, they write editorials for The Dallas Morning News, but it’s all the same con: Shovel nonsense into the faces of hapless rubes and watch the numbers skyrocket in your favor.
Make no mistake: Whoever the next presidential election comes down to (I’ll put $50 on John Kerry and Jeb Bush), the candidates will be fighting over who loves marijuana more. Unlike the brief decriminalization movement of the late 70’s, this is no false start – the country wants it, and the politicians will adapt to that fact like anything operating on haphazardly assembled Artificial Intelligence would.
Marijuana will be legal in Texas within five years – at least in a medicinal capacity – we simply have too much land for greenhouses, and too many potential tax dollars to gain from the plant, to not make an effort towards reform.
In the meantime, it’d be preferable if people like David Simpson would keep half-baked bills and religious screeds out of the conversation. These are petty distractions, and somebody with sense is going to need to concentrate very heavily while they craft a bill that’s meant to pass, rather than one intended to end up on my Facebook feed with some mugging opportunist’s photograph attached to it.