The Bill to Make Cannabis Legal in Texas – Rep. David Simpson

David Simpson

In this candid interview with Texas state representative David Simpson, we discuss his bill (HB 2165).  This bill proposes not only making cannabis legal in Texas, but also to have no restrictions on cannabis at all.  That means no dispensaries, no state regulators to oversee it, it would simply be treated like another plant like a jalepeño or a tomato.  David’s Christian beliefs are part of the reason he is in favor of legalizing cannabis because “everything god made is good.”

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Key quotes:
“Most politicians know this is the right thing to do but are too scared of getting re-elected”
“We don’t need the government to be parents”
“Freedom, responsibility, and limited government”

Highlights:
[1:16] – Why TX shouldn’t have a regulatory body for cannabis
[4:20] – There is no need for dispensaries, treat cannabis like any other plant
[5:41] – David talks about how his Christian Values and HB 2165
[10:01] – What has the response been from other Texas representatives
[10:54] – David talks about the war on drugs
[16:35] – Would legalizing cannabis in Texas be a 10th Amendment issue
[20:00] – When will HB 2165 come to a vote

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Each week I’ll take you behind the scenes to interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving legal marijuana industry. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.cannainsider.com/trends. That’s www.cannainsider.com/trends. Now here’s your program.

Our next guest is Texas State Representative David Simpson. On March 2nd David filed a sweeping bill HB 2165 that would end marijuana prohibition in Texas. David, welcome to CannaInsider.

David: Well thank you for having me Matt. Glad to be with you.

Matthew: David can you tell us what counties in Texas you represent?

David: I represent Gregg and Upshur Counties in the Texas House.

Matthew: Okay. And you proposed to end prohibition, but you go one step further saying that Texas should not erect some regulatory body to monitor cannabis like Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska are doing. Can you tell why?

David: Well I think it’s the conservative liberty lobbying approach. We don’t need a bureaucracy like the alcohol, tobacco or firearms to regulate our right to have guns for self defense or tobacco to smoke or alcohol as far as I’m concerned. All those things can be abused, but we don’t need government to regulate their possession. They should only get involved if we harm someone. And so I don’t think we need to regulate marijuana anymore than we do a vegetable like tomatoes or jalapenos or chili peppers or coffee. Some of those are benign, some of them are self-regulating if you eat too much of them. Now the coffee is a little different. It’s very addictive and it could cause severe withdraws if you try to quit.

And so I just don’t think we need a bureaucracy, and I don’t think we need a registry. What brought this on is I had some people in the district that have been greatly helped by marijuana for treatment for seizures. And there is a bill proposed to help, but it won’t help the people in my district because it’s too narrowly defined, and they need higher levels of THC to help the seizures that they’re treating. And secondly it creates more government, and I thought conservatives, you’re for less government and for more freedom than I am. And I don’t think we need a registry, and that’s what their bill proposes.

The difficulty with the registry besides, I don’t even like having to have a list for concealed handguns, is that that list for using medicinal marijuana will be (3.26 unclear) proof of breaking federal law if we have a change in federal administrations. Thankfully now they’re not prosecuting and enforcing the federal marijuana prohibition, but if you have a registry, you know, that’s a pretty big risk because you might get a change and someone who, you know, wants to, believes it’s evil and it’s so evil that we’re going to put those people in prison who even use it responsibly to treat people with cancer or seizures or PTSD.

Matthew: So for someone that’s in a state where cannabis is regulated heavily, this would just be like hey anybody can grow it, anybody could use it just like they would a tomato. There’s no dispensaries or any of this.

David: Yeah I mean it would just be like any other agricultural product. You know, it would be taxed along with coffee and tomatoes and jalapenos. Any people who grew it would pay property taxes, people who have businesses to sell it would pay the property taxes and sales taxes. But I do think it would be a great boom. We could use the hemp for paper and for rope and for oil. And we could use the marijuana for medicinal purposes. I don’t advocate smoking it, but I respect people’s liberty to do that. I mean I don’t advocate smoking tobacco. I think both are carcinogenic, but also I know people that suffer seizures if they don’t. And now in an effort to avoid being criminal they’re suffering the seizures, they’re suffering the side effects of pharmaceuticals because they don’t treat the seizures as effectively and without harm.

Matthew: Now do you feel like part of your Christian values came into play when you proposed this bill and if so how so?

David: Well certainly. First of all everything God made is good and 1Timothy 4:4 says it’s to be received with Thanksgiving. We shouldn’t harm our bodies, but there is a time for feasting. There’s a time for celebration. God made wine to make the face of man glad, Psalm 104. It says to give strong drink to those who are perishing. Paul told Timothy to use a little wine to help his stomach ailment. And then in Proverbs 23 in verse 21 it says the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty and drowsiness will clothe the man with rags. So the scriptures condemn excessive use of alcohol, food and sleep but it doesn’t ban the activities or the substances associated with them.

And so you know I think the scripture would say use everything with moderation and responsibly, but some who perhaps can’t they should abstain. It advises rulers or leaders, you know, to abstain from it unless they forget the legislation they’re passing. So I think as a Christian I don’t usually bring my Christian principles so much to the forefront, but I think it’s important because we need to respect everyone’s liberty. And Jeremiah talks about, and he proclaimed liberty, each man to his labor, neighbor. And so it’s not only my liberty that’s important, but it’s my neighbor’s. And he may use it in a way that I don’t like or what I believe is irresponsible, but I have to respect him as a free and responsible human being. As long as he’s not harming me or my family or taking my property, the way to best influence him is to be a good model, to engage him to talk. In fact there’s another scripture, Proverbs 3 and verse 30 that says do not contend with your neighbor for no reason when he’s done you no harm. And then it talks about not using violence after that.

And so we shouldn’t employ the government to take away the freedom of someone else when we want to just enjoy our own. If we don’t like what they’re doing we should use free voluntary engagement. Ask them to go to church, invite them over for dinner. If they’re suffering from an addiction we shouldn’t send them to prison. We should wonder and try to find out why they’re trying to escape and why they’re lonely and maybe suggest some professional help. But to use force when they haven’t harmed someone, I think it’s a wrong use of the civil government. Romans 13 talks about the role of the civil government is to use a sword to punish the wrongdoer, but it’s not all wrongdoing. It’s for wrongdoing of violent acts to one’s neighbor and it talks about the second table of the law, not your relationship with God. Sure don’t want the civil government telling who and when and how to worship. But even there’s some personal, family, parental , business things that may be sins in the face of God, but they’re saying not all of those should be dealt with by the government. In fact I don’t think any of them, unless you harm your neighbor, you steal from your employees, you take your neighbor’s wife or you take their life, then the government should be involved.

And so I think the Bible has a lot to say about the proper and limited role of government. God could have made us robots and not let us be free, but he allowed us to make mistakes and thankfully he gave us forgiveness through Jesus Christ that we can serve. And I think we just need to live that out with other people.

Matthew: And what has the response been from other Texas State Representatives about this bill?

David: Well I’ve had almost complete, I mean I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t either praised me or said you have courage and acknowledged it’s the right thing to do. It’s just people here don’t always live in faith. They know it’s the right thing, but they’re concerned about being reelected. But I want to be reelected for doing what’s right, and sometimes that means acknowledging that prohibition has failed. And I don’t want to perpetuate that failure and tear families apart. When they need help, they need loving engagement. They don’t need prison as long as they haven’t violated their neighbor.

Matthew: You’re right. Prohibition has failed. What are your thoughts about the war on drugs?

David: We’ve so demonized drugs that we’ve empowered the state and federal officials basically to run over traditionally protected constitutional rights. And basically empowered them to, you know, not leave people alone in their homes. If they’re doing methamphetamines, that may not be good, but wait until they go to the grocery store and then deal with them. But we throw flash grenades through living room windows and they end up in cribs and they burn babies, and they burst in with military gear in black at 5:30 in the morning and wake people up and scare them and they grab their gun and they think they’re shooting at a criminal and they get 72 bullets in them within about 6 seconds.

And so the war on drugs is putting our law enforcement at harm when there are much safer ways. It’s putting people at harm when they go to the wrong house. It’s creating an underground economy. And even when people, they arrest them and they go through the system they come out, they can’t get a job and then the only thing they can do to support their family is not only do they use drugs, but then they start trading in them. And so I think we have something maybe 10 or 100 times worse than alcohol prohibition. And thankfully we realized that it didn’t work. You know, people ask me, you know, who have loved ones that have been harmed by drugs, you know, they’re scared. But we want to put them in prison. That’s not helping them.

Matthew: Sure. Yes putting people in cages and it costs what 30, 40, $50,000 a year to keep them there, separating families there’s a whole bunch of terrible things associated with it. Now there’s a lot of people out there that will say David, won’t everybody be driving around stoned? How do you respond to that?

David: Well first of all I think there’s a lot of misrepresentation about how toxic the drug is. I think you know right now you can use cough medicine and drink too much of that and put yourself in impairment. You cannot get enough rest like this 18 wheeler did north of the district I served and use stimulants like coffee and caffeine pills and energy drinks and do foolish things and run over a whole bus of kids. So, you know, it’s wrong to be intoxicated or feasted too much and drunk too much and get in a car and fall asleep, but we don’t need to make that a crime. I had someone come in the last term and say that we should make sleeping while driving a crime. It’s incredible. It’s self-correcting and we just should deal with the harm when it’s caused or when we see them swerving.

You don’t need to take their blood. You don’t need to do all these other things. If they have shown impairment through their actions and how they’re harming people or potentially harming people on the roadway we stop them and we issue them a ticket. Now if they’ve run someone over we hold them accountable for their negligence. So I think there are ways to deal with that, and it’s not just marijuana. It’s eating too much, it’s staying awake too long. Those can happen and we should just hold people accountable.

Matthew: Now there’s a lot of people that will come out and say if we’re treating cannabis like tomatoes or jalapeno peppers with no restrictions kids will have access to them. What do you say about that, we can’t nerf the world. I mean what’s the answer?

David: Well I drink coffee in front of my children, but I don’t let them have it. I do from time to time have a beer, but I don’t let them have it. Until they’re in their teens and then I reasonably expose them to those things and particularly to coffee if they’re interested but say it can be very addictive. And I warn them that if you get addicted and you stop you’re going to have a severe headache. So we don’t need the government to be parents. We need for parents to be with their children. We don’t fence every body of water. We do take the precautions where people can quickly be around pools and things, but the main thing is to take our children and as they grow up train them to be responsible adults. And I think we can do that and should do that, not just with things like marijuana, but coffee, alcohol, you know, cough syrup, aspirin. There’s lots of things that you can abuse. Feasting, as far as if you eat too much all the time you become a glutton. It’s okay to feast sometimes.

Matthew: Do you feel legalizing cannabis in Texas is a 10th Amendment issue?

David: Well I do. Thankfully now the federal government at least has respected some states that are growing hemp and some states that are using marijuana medicinally. But if that were not the case, first of all, I don’t think it’s a federal issue. It should be simply a state issue. All crimes except for counterfeiting, treason and slavery and I think there’s one more really should be federal crimes. But crimes should really be debated on the state level.

Matthew: And you mentioned federal issues here. I hear you (17.27 unclear) some of the virtues of individual liberties, lament government and personal responsibility. Have we gotten away from these ideas in the last few decades and why do you think that might be.

David: Well it’s real easy to advocate responsibilities and we’ve done that more and more. There is a place for the state. I’m not an anarchist. I do think there’s a place to use force for justice and for contracts and when people harm their neighbor and don’t rectify it. But it’s easy to go down that road. It’s something that we have to teach each generation and it goes back to, you know, we just need to respect other people’s liberties and when we differ with them we shouldn’t go get the government to force them to do as we do. We should engage them, respect them as a fellow human being who is responsible and free. And force should just be limited to justice.

And I believe we’re made in the image of God free and responsible, and I think speed to God that there’s forgiveness of sins and Jesus Christ. And my hope in Heaven is not that I’m going to be a robot or a slave, but I’m going to be a free man that will use my freedom then perfectly. And that’s the patriot dream that sees beyond the years of Alabaster cities that gleam undimmed with human tears. And we’ve forgotten that. And even conservatives. So we have to qualify it, you know, we have to be a common sense conservative, a Constitutional conservator, a liberty minded conservative because the word conservative has lost its meaning. And what we need to do is and what’s made the United States Texas great is a responsible use of freedom, but when we don’t use it responsibly it causes a problem, it causes more government and it does provoke our neighbor to go get the government to get us in line. But I think the better way unless there’s violence is just engage one another.

Matthew: Now when does the cannabis bill come to a vote do you expect?

David: Well it’s just been filed this last Monday and so the Speaker will then refer the bill to committee and then there will be a committee hearing and then God willing a vote and then with enough votes coming out of committee, it would go to the House floor for a vote and if passed out of the House it would go to the Senate and then onto the governor. So it’s a lengthy process. The process is designed to kill bills more than pass them.

Matthew: Why is that? Why is that, I mean for people who don’t understand the inner workings of how the state legislature works. Is it to make sure nothing crazy gets to the floor? What’s the reason?

David: We hold the, we will the vote of power. And it should be very careful that we use it right. And sometimes, I mean , in the scripture says there’s safety. So usually there’s about 8,000, 6,000 to 8,000 bills that are filed. This last session I think there was about 1,600 that were passed. So there’s still a lot of laws that were changed or passed. I’m trying to repeal some bad ones, and not just pass some new ones. So it should be an arduous process so that we don’t continue to grow government, but it is also difficult to have to limit it and the government even lobbies itself sadly and wants to make sure it grows.

Matthew: How can listeners support your efforts in legalizing cannabis?

David: Well pray for me, and I love those who differ with me and that I will explain it well and I would encourage them to call their representative, their senator and express support, to do it respectfully. A lot of people, I would say most people here know it’s the right thing to do, but they’re scared about being reelected. I’m more scared about sending more people to prison that need help, that are desperate, that need the church, that need to be engaged, that need professional help when they’ve been addicted to something. And I also want to help people that have tried everything legal but now have found something natural but it’s illegal to help their children who are suffering from seizures and veterans who are killing themselves, 22 a day, that could help them. So I would speak about those things respectfully to the leadership in our state, the governor, the speaker of the house, the lieutenant governor, their senator and their representatives and then to focus on the people on the committee that it goes to.

Matthew: Okay. Well David, thank you so much for being on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.

David: Oh you’re welcome, and keep using that 1st Amendment . Thank you Matt.

Matthew: Thank you David. Bye bye. If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.cannainsider.com/trends. That's www.cannainsider.com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www.cannainsider.com, email us feedback at cannainsider dot com. We would love to hear from you.

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  • Adrian

    I say you should legalize Marijuana in Texas because it will help Texas make more profit and will help a lot of people with addictions or conditions like eating disorders and Marijuana is 100% safe it is more safer than tobacco or alcohol.