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Texas Governor: No Marijuana Legalization Or Decriminalization This Session

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texas greg abbott marijuanaTexas is a pretty harsh place when it comes to marijuana policy. To make matters worse, Texas does not have a citizen initiative process. Most marijuana reform victories have come as a result of citizen initiatives. That means that the only way to reform marijuana laws in Texas is via the Texas Legislature. This session in Texas has been very active for marijuana reform, with a handful of bills being introduced to legalize medical and recreational marijuana.

Unfortunately, Texas’ Governor is trying to kill those efforts before they even get out of the Texas Legislature. Per Dallas News:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that lawmakers would not approve legislation that would legalize marijuana.

“I don’t think decriminalizing marijuana is going to happen this session,” Abbott said during a news conference. “I will see Texas continuing to lead the way of diverting away from activity that involves drug use and helping people lead more productive lives.”

Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, is sponsoring a bill that would not make it a crime to possess or use marijuana. Simpson says marijuana is “God’s plant” and has good uses, including medicinal purposes.

He’s one of many conservative leaders reconsidering how the state prosecutes marijuana crimes. Texas prisons are filled with inmates, mostly minorities, who have been convicted for possessing or selling small amounts of weed.

Shame on Texas’ Governor. He can stick his head in the ground and pretend that marijuana use will just go away, but that will never happen. There are countless people in Texas (and beyond) that consume marijuana and lead very productive lives. Why should they be treated like criminals because they choose to medicate and/or unwind with a substance that is safer than alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceuticals?

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107 Comments

  1. newageblues on

    So Bull Connor was a drug addict, he drank bourbon every morning. Figures.

  2. newageblues on

    Sounds like that fascist just doesn’t understand (or pretends not to understand) that alcohol is a drug, and is FAR more dangerous than weed. Pathetic creep.

  3. the governor of Texas was elected by the people of Texas to do what the people of Texas want not what he wants a bill should be interduced to allow the people to vote on it I think it should be up to us if the people say no i’ll live with it but I think the people will say yes. please governor help bring back by the people of the people for the people and let us make the choice

  4. The texas governor would have us the people get our medicine on that crappy reg from mexico or pay more for kush from someone else in another state than just be at peace here at our home but instead we are in more danger of being shot by police than from just smoking it .we have a right to pursue to happiness he should not have more power than the people it should be up to us THE PEOPLE

  5. jessie james on

    You have the right idea I’ve been living in Colorado the last few years its awesome makes Texas a joke I used to love my state not anymore guess I will have to vote democrat next time

  6. jessie james on

    He’s completely out of touch with the voters he will not get reelected if I have to vote democrat I will this guys stupid he like helping the cartels he’s got blood on his hands what a scumbag we should hang him and the Mexican cartel leaders together

  7. Suomy Nona on

    Call him, and call your representatives Demand they pass legislation
    TO HB 507 This would impose a $250 civil fine on the possession of a personal amount of marijuana
    tell them to put it on the Calendar this year and vote yes

    Rep. Anderson 512 463 0135

    Rep. Phil King 512 463 0738

    Rep. Paul Worman 512 463 0652

    Rep. Travis Clardy 512 463 0592

    Rep. Borris Miles 512 463 0518

    Rep. Tan PARKER 512 463 0688

    Rep. Armendo WALLE 512 463 0924

  8. While Greg Abbott denies patients the right of alternative choices, millions upon millions of dollars flow into Mexico every day for the importation of marijuana while fulfilling the needs of those patients our political leaders have categorized as criminals by maintaining its illegal status.

  9. How is this even possible? theres no logic behind keeping it illegal. Most people clearly want it legalized and this country is about being free so i don’t understand how they can just say NOPE not doing whats fair to the people.

  10. David, the trends show many more states will pass medical marijuana laws, and the trend will also continue that more states will fully legalize marijuana. Also in many states that did vote no, they’ve have anti billionaire backers and corporate backers come in and sway the election against its passing, Florida was a good example of that, also it was done in California. There is also a lot of money pouring into making it legal from businesses and wealthy people, and right now they’re winning the battle.

  11. Matt, just send his office about anything pro marijuana legalization and you’ll receive excuses they will use that he’ll stop anything with marijuana. Abbotts a fraud, and he will never represent the people over his ideology, and politics. He’s quickly digging his own hole, and if people will only get out and vote, this scumbag won’t be in office long, and maybe then will we get progress on the movement of this issue.

  12. The GOTP only use that to get elected, then it is only their freedoms and their liberty they represent, not ours. Abbotts just another pretender that got elected but represents himself , and his campaign contributors, not your freedom and liberty.

  13. Not With Abbott in office. He’s very anti marijuana, and he needs to be replaced asap if he refuses to represent what the people of Texas want, period.

  14. Unfortunately he’s talking about never signing into law anything to do with relaxing penalties, making medical marijuana legal, or recreational marijuana legal, and will use excuses to refuse it in this state, like the FDA has to approve it, or reasons for safety. He’s very , very anti marijuana, and will block anything presented to him by the legislators. Until he’s gone we’ll never make any progress, so the voters will have to vote if they really want change here, and we’ll also be another state heading for ousting the GOTP to promote and get change for our state that makes sense for the people, not their ideology.

  15. That’s not what the polls say. It would all depend on getting the people out to vote.

  16. First there weren’t many states that voted it down, there were a handful and not a single one of them had the majority of the people, and you might wanna get your facts right the 65% of Florida voted yes not no.

  17. First there weren’t many states that voted it down, there were a handful and not a single one of them had the majority of the people, and you might wanna get your facts right the 65% of Florida voted yes not no.

  18. shit take Texas and these states
    Pending Legislation in 2015

    Alabama
    Florida
    Iowa
    Missouri
    NebraskaPennsylvania
    South Carolina
    Tennessee
    Texas republic senate and rep trying to to pass it

    and these states
    9Failed Legislation in 2015

    Georgia
    Indiana
    Kansas
    Kentucky
    MississippiNorth Carolina
    North Dakota
    Utah
    West Virginia

  19. The Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, Amendment 2 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in the state of Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure would have legalized medical marijuana.
    for legalizing 2,478,99342. 38% against legellizing 3,370,761 57.62%

  20. no one so the 65% of florida that vote no is no one? and many other states the vote it down

  21. I smoke everyday….like people smoke cigs. Always have. I live in Dallas. I can walk down the block anywhere in this city and smell it in the air at some point. Half the people smoke blatantly anyway. The other half here mind their business. The reaction from anyone is pretty relaxed. Even the cops. If its not alot and you’re not a murderer you’re most likely to get a “get the fkk outta here” from them. Too much of a WASTE OF TIME in their eyes. Hah ironic right? So I’m wondering who is it thts against marijuana? I’ve never met anyone outright against marijuana so much tht they had to “join the cause” of banning it and I’ve never seen anyone react negatively to smellin it out in public. Who is it tht cares if I smoke or not?!! Idc if its legal or not, I’m going to smoke like ppl drink. I jus dont get it. I DO kno tht something negative has to happen to someone pret-ty important tht could have been prevented or managed with marijuana before anything changes. Is it even constitutional to make it illegal or to infringe upon freedoms to live how you like as long as you’re not harming anyone? Arent unconstitutional laws not viewed as real laws and therefore dont have to be acknowledged as such? And if its not, isn’t there a lawyer out there, preferably one with a slick southern accent, who can find something wrong with the way its written? Kind of like they always do with sht they don’t want to pass……i always thought the laws were put in place to keep the white babies from mingling with the “drug crazed” blacks and Mexicans. So kind of a racist law…..wow, tht was alot of sht I never planned on sayin…..but I’m high :| and you jus read this so now you are high and all the bad things in life are going to happen to you and no one else but you, oh nooo

  22. Plan an event…..everyone meets up for peaceful protest on massive scales….and then everyone pull out a doob and light up. Jus stand there and smoke it down. byow

  23. Hahah you’re a fkkin loser and a poser. Get off your mommas couch btch. sellin tht shake sht…..fkkin phony ass.

  24. billwright727 on

    At my fb page bill wrightjr medical marihuana has a e-mail page to governor check it out and e-mail the Govenor.

  25. billwright727 on

    We need to turn cartels into bootleggers crime is down in every state that has a cannabis law, Colorado is giving back tax money from the cannabis industry. IN MY TOWN THE UNSOLVE CRIME IS 83% OF BUT FOR CANNABIS THEY WILL ARREST THE LOW HANGING FRUIT.

  26. John Marcus Cook on

    Im all for legalization but Im not voting for that evil witch Wendy Davis. It was a Republican who brought forth reform here in the first place. Vote Libertarian or we need to choose a better GOP nominee.

  27. lovelydestruction on

    Don’t forget sticking their fingers up multiple rectums and vaginas in broad daylight on the side of the highway…using the same gloves repeatedly. Of course, nothing was found except a new hobby.

  28. Hey Texans let Gov. Greg Abbott know that comes next election he has lost your VOTE. Only way we can take back our FREEDOM. Vote Pro-Marijuana Legalization

  29. Illegal Marijuana = Illegal Cartels = Inner City/US Street Gangs & Violence = 75,000 Texas Kids Lives Ruined Per Year VIA Arrests/Imprisonment

  30. “[Drug control efforts] have had harmful collateral consequences: creating a criminal black market; fuelling corruption, violence,
    and instability; threatening public health and safety; generating large-scale human rights abuses, including abusive and inhumane punishments; and discrimination and marginalization of people who use drugs, indigenous peoples, women, and youth” — The United Nations Development Programme

    The UNODC continues talking about the impact of drug policies on the formal economy, on human rights, on gender, on the environment, and on indigenous peoples, and they argue that “new approaches are both urgent and necessary.”

    Meanwhile back at el ranchero… Mexican Drug Cartels are rapidly changing over 2/3’s of their fields from Marijuana to poppies to make heroine. Illegal Cartels are quickly losing the American market so are trying to being selling to Mexican citizens, who are racing to legalize Marijuana in Mexico themselves to drive the cartels out of Mexico. Mexican cartels are now trying to focus on the European market to stay in business. They are “on the run” for survival …Thanks to America waking up, finally!!

  31. James Whalen on

    All these politicians are so against pot but they’ll allow our country be overrun by illegal illiterates.

  32. If you want to actually try and change legislation, get on the phone and call your house, senate and gov two to three times a week. Begin an initiative post it on other web site. If you can clog up their phones they will listen.

  33. The hell with Greg Abbot , he is full of shit , he dosnt care at all for Texans , i didnt even vote for that communist republican , free texas legalize , stop wasting tax payers money , stop locking up marijuana smokers

  34. I live in a state full of f****** republicans and i can’t believe they’re still f****** stuck on not legalising toke it up my fellow smokers!

  35. Awesome, I don’t have to get a job or ask your kids for I.D when I sell them pot. I live in a pretty shady side of town, so if they get beat up or robbed, so what, not my problem. Keep it illegal

  36. Now that I’ve read Cornyn’s reply more closely, I see that he completely avoided the question! The first 3 paragraphs have nothing to do with whether he supports CARERS. Here’s the paragraph that needs parsing =>
    ______________________________________________________________________________
    “Furthermore, as you know, several states have legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. I support the Supreme Court’s 2001 decision ruling that the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is not a defense under federal law, but we should always have an open dialogue on social issues, even when they are issues on which we may disagree.”

    ______________________________________________________________________________

    Sen. Cornyn doesn’t say anything relevant to his stance on CARERS in the preceding paragraph. The federal law he refers to is the Controlled Substances Act, which is the very same law that CARERS would amend. The Court said that the CSA as it was written foreclosed the medical necessity defense. Cornyn is simply agreeing with the ruling. He still hasn’t told us where he stands on CARERS.

    No wonder he got to be a senator!

  37. Without armed “friends” a future relegalization could again be taken away from us.

    The Right to Keep & Bear Arms and cannabis relegalization are both good things !

  38. libertyorsecurity on

    Anyone else find it interesting that he said it wouldn’t pass “this session,” implying that it might not be completely off the table. I honestly don’t know but was wondering.

  39. Yes, that was a hideous decision. But The Supremes have changed their mind before.

  40. Fuck them all lol . Regardless im still blowing hash and making money off of it while the government is slacking

  41. Grab a clue pinhead, the Democrats are no better at making promises and promptly breaking them than the others…

  42. Bob Schneider on

    Here’s ya a seed for thought. Who knows where the border patrol is 24/7, who knows where the Coast Guard is 24/7?

  43. Bob Schneider on

    Sounds to me like David Simpson may be the next governor of Texas. If a man doesn’t see that legalization is the way to go, then I promise that dip stick won’t get my vote. I say lets fire everyone of these fuddy duddies and take our country back.

  44. HB 3785 should pass no matter what. It’s the only sane and logical thing to do, even if you’re anti-pot. There is more benefit than harm for the patients of medical marijuana.

  45. Get more juries like the one in Florida that refused to convict a man for growing marijuana for medical use. Despite having 46 plants, it took the jury 30 minutes to acquit him. Simply refuse to convict for pot offenses.

  46. Im from texas and i don’t sleep with cattle how can people be so idiotic its our dumbass leaders who speek for themselves if everbody knew what texas was all about then they wouldn’t be saying so much negatively we the true texans want marijuana legalization not just medical but regulation stupid people lie about these polls when they should hold a state wide vote to shut dumbass people like this guy up

  47. To get a feel for just how stupid the governor is let us rephrase:

    “I will see Texas continuing to lead the way of diverting away from
    activity that involves alcohol use and helping people lead more productive
    lives.”

  48. You forgot the freedom to get the Electric chair for a parking ticket……What a F’d up state Texas is

  49. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
    by Malcom Gladwell

    The most famous photograph in the history of the American civil rights movement was taken on May 3, 1963, by Bill Hudson, a photographer for the Associated Press. Hudson was in Birmingham, Alabama, where Martin Luther King Jr.’s activists had taken on the city’s racist public safety commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor. The photo was of a teenage boy being attacked by a police dog. Even to this day, it has not lost its power to shock.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/74/Birmingham_campaign_dogs.jpg

    Wyatt Walker was a Baptist minister from Massachusetts. He joined up with Martin Luther King in 1960. He was King’s “nuts and bolts” man, his organizer and fixer. He was a mischief maker—slender, elegant, and intellectual, with a pencil-thin mustache and a droll sense of humor. …

    The plan Walker devised for Birmingham was called Project C—for confrontation. The staging ground was the city’s venerable 16th Street Baptist Church, next to Kelly Ingram Park, and a few short blocks from downtown Birmingham. Project C had three acts, each designed to be bigger and more provocative than the last. It began with a series of sit-ins at local businesses. That was to draw media attention to the problem of segregation in Birmingham. At night, Shuttlesworth and King would lead mass meetings for the local black community to keep morale high. The second stage was a boycott of downtown businesses, to put financial pressure on the white business community to reconsider their practices toward their black customers. (In department stores, for example, blacks could not use the washrooms or the changing rooms, for fear that a surface or an item of clothing once touched by a black person would then touch a white person.) Act three was a series of mass marches to back up the boycott and fill up the jails—because once Connor ran out of cells he could no longer make the civil rights problem go away simply by arresting the protesters. He would have to deal with them directly.

    Project C was a high-stakes operation. For it to work, Connor had to fight back. As King put it, Commissioner of Public Safety Connor had to be induced to “tip his hand”—thereby revealing his ugly side to the world. But there was no guarantee that he would do that. King and Walker had just come from running their long campaign in Albany, Georgia, and they had failed there because the Albany police chief, Laurie Pritchett, had refused to take the bait. He told his police officers not to use violence or excessive force. He was friendly and polite. His views on civil rights may have been unevolved, but he treated King with respect. The Northern press came to Albany to cover the confrontation between white and black, and found—to their surprise—they quite liked Pritchett. When King was finally thrown in jail, a mysterious well-dressed man—sent, legend had it, by Pritchett himself—came the next day and bailed him out. How can you be a martyr if you get bailed out of jail the instant you get there?

    Walker realized that a setback in Birmingham so soon after the Albany debacle would be disastrous. In those years, the evening news on television was watched in an overwhelming number of American households, and Walker wanted desperately to have Project C front and center on American television screens every night. But he knew that if the campaign was perceived to be faltering, the news media could lose interest and go elsewhere.

    Once started, however, they could not fall back.…In no case, said Walker, could the Birmingham campaign be smaller than Albany. That meant they must be prepared to put upwards of a thousand people in jail at one time, maybe more.”

    Several weeks in, Walker saw his campaign begin to lose that precious momentum. Many blacks in Birmingham were worried—justifiably—that if they were seen with King, they would be fired by their white bosses. In April, one of King’s aides spoke before seven hundred people at a church service and could persuade only nine of them to march with him. The next day, Andrew Young—another of King’s men—tried again, and this time found only seven volunteers. The local conservative black paper called Project C “wasteful and worthless.” The reporters and photographers assembled there to record the spectacle of black-on-white confrontation were getting restless. Connor made the occasional arrest but mostly just sat and watched. Walker was in constant contact with King as King commuted back and forth between Birmingham and his home base in Atlanta. “Wyatt,” King told him for the hundredth time, “you’ve got to find some way to make Bull Connor tip his hand.” Walker shook his head. “Mr. Leader, I haven’t found the key yet, but I’m going to find it.”

    The breakthrough came on Palm Sunday. Walker had twenty-two protesters ready to go. The march would be led by King’s brother, Alfred Daniel, known as A.D. “Our mass meeting was slow getting together,” Walker recalled. “We were supposed to march at something like two-thirty, and we didn’t march until about four. In that time, people, being aware of the demonstration, collected out on the streets. By the time they got ready to march, there were a thousand people up and down this three-block area, lining up all along the sides as spectators, watching.”

    The next day, Walker opened the newspapers to read the media’s account of what had happened, and to his surprise he discovered the reporters had gotten it all wrong. The papers said eleven hundred demonstrators had marched in Birmingham. “I called Dr. King and said, ‘Dr. King, I’ve got it!’” Walker recalled. “‘I can’t tell you on the phone, but I’ve got it!’ So what we did each day was we dragged out our meetings until people got home from work late in the afternoon. They would form out on the side and it would look like a thousand folks. We weren’t marching but twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen. But the papers were reporting fourteen hundred.”

    It was a situation straight out of one of the most famous of all trickster tales—the story of Terrapin, a lowly turtle who finds himself in a race with Deer. He hides just by the finish line and places his relatives up and down the course, at strategic intervals, to make it seem like he is running the whole race. Then at the finish line, he emerges just ahead of Deer to claim victory. Deer is completely fooled, since, as Terrapin knows, to Deer, all turtles “am so much like annurrer you can’t tell one from turrer.”

    Commissioner of Public Safety Connor was an arrogant man who liked to swagger around Birmingham saying, “Down here we make our own law.” He sat drinking his bourbon every morning at the Molton Hotel, loudly predicting that King would “run out of niggers.” Now he looked out the window and saw Terrapin ahead of him at every turn. He was in shock. Those imaginary one thousand protesters were a provocation. “Bull Connor had something in his mind about not letting these niggers get to city hall,” Walker said. “I prayed that he’d keep trying to stop us.…Birmingham would have been lost if Bull had let us go down to the city hall and pray. If he had let us do that and stepped aside, what else would be new? There would be no movement, no publicity.” Please, Brer Connor, please. Whatever you do, don’t throw me in the briar patch. And of course that’s just what Connor did.

    A month into the protest, Walker and King stepped up the pressure. One of the Birmingham team, James Bevel, had been working with local schoolchildren, instructing them in the principles of nonviolent resistance. Bevel was a Pied Piper: a tall, bald, hypnotic speaker who wore a yarmulke and bib overalls and claimed to hear voices. (McWhorter calls him a “militant out of Dr. Seuss.”) On the last Monday in April, he dropped off leaflets at all of the black high schools around the county: “Come to 16th Street Baptist Church at noon on Thursday. Don’t ask permission.” The city’s most popular black disc jockey—Shelley “the Playboy” Stewart—sent out the same message to his young listeners: “Kids, there’s gonna be a party at the park.”8 The FBI got wind of the plan and told Bull Connor, who announced that any child who skipped school would be expelled. It made no difference. The kids came in droves. Walker called the day the children arrived “D Day.”

    At one o’clock, the doors to the church opened, and King’s lieutenants began sending the children out. They held signs saying “Freedom” or “Die to Make This Land My Home.” They sang “We Shall Overcome” and “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.” Outside the church, Connor’s police officers waited. The children dropped to their knees and prayed, then filed into the open doors of the paddy wagons. Then another dozen came out. Then another dozen, and another, and another—until Connor’s men had begun to get an inkling that the stakes had been raised again.

    A police officer spotted Fred Shuttlesworth. “Hey, Fred, how many more have you got?”

    “At least a thousand more,” he replied.

    “God A’mighty,” the officer said.

    By the end of the day, more than six hundred children were in jail.

    The next day—Friday—was “Double-D Day.” This time fifteen hundred schoolchildren skipped school to come down to 16th Street Baptist. At one o’clock, they began filing out of the church. The streets surrounding Kelly Ingram Park were barricaded by police and firefighters. There was no mystery about why the firefighters had been called in. They had high-pressure hoses on their fire trucks, and “water cannons,” as they were also known, had been a staple of crowd control since the 1930s in the early days of Nazi Germany. Walker knew that if the demonstrations grew so large that they overwhelmed the Birmingham police, Connor would be sorely tempted to turn on the hoses. He wanted Connor to turn on the hoses. “It was hot in Birmingham,” he explained. “I told [Bevel] to let the pep rally go on a while and let these firemen sit out there and bake in the sun until their tempers were like hair triggers.”

    And the dogs? Connor had been itching to use the city’s K-9 Corps. Earlier that spring, in a speech, Connor had vowed to combat the civil right protesters with one hundred German shepherd police dogs. “I want ’em to see the dogs work,” Connor growled, as things began to get out of control in Kelly Ingram Park—and nothing made Walker happier than that. He had children marching in the streets, and now Connor wanted to let German shepherds loose on them? Everyone in King’s camp knew what it would look like if someone published a photograph of a police dog lunging at a child.

    Connor stood watch as the children came closer. “Do not cross,” he said. “If you come any further, we will turn the fire hoses on you.” Connor’s jails were full. He couldn’t arrest anyone else, because he had nowhere to put them. The children kept coming. The firemen were hesitant. They were not used to controlling crowds. Connor turned to the fire chief: “Turn ’em on, or go home.” The firemen turned on their “monitor guns,” valves that turned the spray of their hoses into a high-pressure torrent. The children clung to one another and were sent sprawling backwards. The force of the water ripped some of the marchers’ shirts from their bodies and flung others against walls and doorways.

    Back at the church, Walker began deploying waves of children to the other end of the park to open another front. Connor had no more fire trucks. But he was determined that none of the marchers cross over into “white” Birmingham. “Bring the dogs,” Connor ordered, calling in eight K-9 units. “Why did you bring old Tiger out?” Connor shouted at one of his police officers. “Why didn’t you bring a meaner dog—this one is not the vicious one!” The children came closer. A German shepherd lunged at a boy. He leaned in, arms limp, as if to say, “Take me, here I am.” On Saturday, the picture ran on the front page of every newspaper around the country.

    Does Wyatt Walker’s behavior make you uncomfortable? James Forman, who was a key figure in the civil rights movement in those years, was with Walker when Connor first deployed the K-9 units. Forman says that Walker started jumping with joy. “We’ve got a movement. We’ve got a movement. We had some police brutality.” Forman was stunned. Walker was as aware as any of them just how dangerous Birmingham could be. He had been in the room when King gave everyone a mock eulogy. How could he be jumping up and down at the sight of protesters being attacked by police dogs?

    After D Day, King and Walker heard it from all sides. The judge processing the arrested marchers said that the people who “misled those kids” into marching “ought to be put under the jail.” On the floor of Congress, one of Alabama’s congressmen called the use of children “shameful.” The mayor of Birmingham denounced the “irresponsible and unthinking agitators” who were using children as “tools.” Malcolm X—the black activist who was in every way more radical than King—said “real men don’t put their children on the firing line.” The New York Times editorialized that King was engaged in “perilous ventures in brinkmanship” and Time scolded him for using children as “shock troops.” The U.S. attorney general, Robert F. Kennedy, warned that “schoolchildren participating in street demonstrations is a dangerous business,” and said, “An injured, maimed or dead child is a price that none of us can afford to pay.”

    On the Friday night, after the second day of children’s protests, King spoke at 16th Street Baptist Church to the parents of those who had been arrested that day and the day before. They knew full well the dangers and humiliations of being a black person in Birmingham. Jesus said He’d go as far as Memphis. Can you imagine how they felt with their children at that moment languishing in Bull Connor’s jails? King stood up and tried to make light of the situation: “Not only did they stand up in the water, they went under the water!” he said. “And dogs? Well, I’ll tell you. When I was growing up, I was dog bitten…for nothing. So I don’t mind being bitten by a dog for standing up for freedom!”

    Whether or not any of the parents were buying this is unclear. King plunged on: “Your daughters and sons are in jail.…Don’t worry about them.…They are suffering for what they believe, and they are suffering to make this nation a better nation.” Don’t worry about them? Taylor Branch writes that there were rumors—“true and false”—about “rats, beatings, concrete beds, overflowing latrines, jailhouse assaults, and crude examinations for venereal disease.” Seventy-five and eighty children were packed into cells intended for eight. Some had been bused out to the state fairground and held without food and water in stockades in the pouring rain. King’s response? “Jail helps you to rise above the miasma of everyday life,” he said blithely. “If they want some books, we will get them. I catch up on my reading every time I go to jail.”

    Walker and King were trying to set up that picture—the German shepherd lunging at the boy. But to get it, they had to play a complex and duplicitous game. To Bull Connor, they pretended that they had a hundred times more supporters than they did. To the press, they pretended that they were shocked at the way Connor let his dogs loose on their protesters—while at the same time, they were jumping for joy behind closed doors. And to the parents whose children they were using as cannon fodder, they pretended that Bull Connor’s prisons were a good place for their children to catch up on their reading.

    But we shouldn’t be shocked by this. What other options did Walker and King have? In the traditional fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, told to every Western schoolchild, the Tortoise beats the Hare through sheer persistence and effort. Slow and steady wins the race. That’s an appropriate and powerful lesson—but only in a world where the Tortoise and the Hare are playing by the same rules, and where everyone’s effort is rewarded. In a world that isn’t fair—and no one would have called Birmingham in 1963 fair—the Terrapin has to place his relatives at strategic points along the racecourse. The trickster is not a trickster by nature. He is a trickster by necessity. In the next great civil rights showdown in Selma, Alabama, two years later, a photographer from Life magazine put down his camera in order to come to the aid of children being roughed up by police officers. Afterward, King reprimanded him: “The world doesn’t know this happened, because you didn’t photograph it. I’m not being cold-blooded about it, but it is so much more important for you to take a picture of us getting beaten up than for you to be another person joining in the fray.” He needed the picture. In response to the complaints over the use of children, Fred Shuttlesworth said it best: “We got to use what we got.”

    “I still t’ink Ise de fas’est runner in de worl’,” the bewildered Deer complains after a race in which Terrapin has done something that would get him banished from every competition in the world. “Maybe you air,” Terrapin responds, “but I kin head ou off wid sense.”

    The boy in Bill Hudson’s famous photograph is Walter Gadsden. He was a sophomore at Parker High in Birmingham, six foot tall and fifteen years old. He wasn’t a marcher. He was a spectator. He came from a conservative black family that owned two newspapers in Birmingham and Atlanta that had been sharply critical of King. Gadsden had taken off school that afternoon to watch the spectacle unfolding around Kelly Ingram Park.

    The officer in the picture is Dick Middleton. He was a modest and reserved man. “The K-9 Corps,” McWhorter writes, “was known for attracting straight arrows who wanted none of the scams and payoffs that often came with a regular beat. Nor were the dog handlers known for being race ideologues.” The dog’s name is Leo.

    Now look at the faces of the black bystanders in the background. Shouldn’t they be surprised or horrified? They’re not. Next, look at the leash in Middleton’s hand. It’s taut, as if he’s trying to restrain Leo. And look at Gadsden’s left hand. He’s gripping Middleton on the forearm. Look at Gadsden’s left leg. He’s kicking Leo, isn’t he? Gadsden would say later that he had been raised around dogs and had been taught how to protect himself. “I automatically threw my knee up in front of the dog’s head,” he said. Gadsden wasn’t the martyr, passively leaning forward as if to say, “Take me, here I am.” He’s steadying himself, with a hand on Middleton, so he can deliver a sharper blow. The word around the movement, afterward, was that he’d broken Leo’s jaw. Hudson’s photograph is not at all what the world thought it was. It was a little bit of Brer Rabbit trickery.

    You got to use what you got.

    “Sure, people got bit by the dogs,” Walker said, looking back twenty years later. “I’d say at least two or three. But a picture is worth a thousand words, dahlin’.”11

    1 In William Nunnelley’s biography of Connor, titled Bull Connor, Nunnelley identifies the relevant section of the Birmingham city code as section 369, which prohibited serving “white and colored people” in the same room unless they were separated by a partition seven feet high with separate entrances.

    2 My mother, who is West Indian, was taught Anansi stories as a child and told them to my brothers and me when we were young. Anansi is a rascal, who is not above cheating and sacrificing his own children (of which he invariably has many) for his own ends. My mother is a proper Jamaican lady, but on the subject of Anansi she becomes the picture of mischief.

    3 In Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom, Lawrence Levine writes: “The rabbit, like the slaves who wove tales about him, was forced to make do with what he had. His small tail, his natural portion of intellect—these would have to suffice, and to make them do he resorted to any means at his disposal—means which may have made him morally tainted but which allowed him to survive and even to conquer.”

    4 The historian Taylor Branch writes of Walker: “Walker was a hotspur. As a New Jersey high school student in the 1940s, he had heard Paul Robeson say that if being for freedom and equality meant being a Red, then he was a Red. Walker promptly joined the Young Communist League. One of his high school papers was a five-year plan for a Soviet-type economy in the United States, and he dreamed of carrying out technically ingenious assassinations against leading segregationists.”

    5 Walker continued: “We were just going to give ourselves up to the mob and felt that would appease them. Let them beat us to death, I guess.”

    6 Pritchett actually came to Birmingham and warned Bull Connor about King and Walker. He wanted to teach Connor how to handle the civil rights tricksters. But Connor wasn’t inclined to listen. “I never will forget, when we entered his office,” Pritchett remembers, “his back was to us…some big executive chair, you know, and when he turned around, there was this little man—you know, in stature. But he had this boomin’ voice, and he was tellin’ me that they closed the course that day…said, ‘They can play golf, but we put concrete in the holes. They can’t get the ball in the holes.’ And this gave me some indication as to what type of man he was.”

    7 This was a running theme with Walker. One time in Birmingham, the city filed an injunction against the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which meant that Walker had to appear in court. The question was: If Walker was tied up in court, how would he run the campaign? Walker’s answer was to register with the court and then have someone else show up in his place every day thereafter. Why not? He said, “You know, all niggers look alike anyway.”

    8 Stewart was a huge figure in Birmingham. Every African-American teenager listened to his show. The second part of his message to his listeners was “Bring your toothbrushes, because lunch will be served.” “Toothbrushes” was code for “be dressed and prepared to spend a few nights in jail.”

    9 Forman writes: “It seemed very cold, cruel, and calculating to be happy about police brutality coming down on innocent people…no matter what purpose it served.”

    10 King thought long and hard before agreeing to use the children. He had to be talked into it by James Bevel. Their eventual conclusion was that if someone was old enough to belong to a church—to have made a decision of that importance to their life and soul—then they were old enough to fight for a cause of great importance to their life and soul. In the Baptist tradition, you could join a church once you were of school age. That meant that King approved of using children as young as six or seven against Bull Connor.

    11 Walker makes a similar claim about the famous photographs of protesters being hit by Connor’s water cannons. The people in the photographs, he says, were spectators like Gadsden, not demonstrators. And they had been standing outside 16th Street Baptist Church all afternoon—on a typically humid Birmingham spring day. They were hot. “They had gathered in the park, which is a shaded area. And the firemen had set up their hoses at two corners of the park, one on Fifth Street and one on Sixth Street. And the mood was like a Roman holiday; it was festive. There wasn’t anybody among the spectators who were angry, and they had waited so long, and it was beginning to get dark now. So, somebody heaved a brick because they knew that—in fact, they had been saying, ‘Turn the water hose on. Turn the water hose on.’ And Bull Connor, then somebody threw a brick, and he started turning them on, see. So they just danced and played in the hose spray. This famous picture of them holding hands, it was just a frolic of them trying to stand up [unintelligible] and some of them were getting knocked down by the hose. They’d get up and run back and it would slide them along the pavement. Then they began bringing the hose up from the other corner, and instead of Negroes [unintelligible] they ran to the hose. It was a, it was a holiday for them. And this went on for a couple of hours. It was a joke, really. All in good humor and good spirit. Not any vitriolic response on the part of even the Negro spectators, which to me, again, was an example of the changing spirit, you know. When Negroes once had been cowed in the presence of policemen and maybe water hoses, here they had complete disdain for them. Made a joke out of it.”

  50. Here is CARERS ACT response from non MMJ state Texas Senator Corner- who is on Judiciary committee and will be voting on CARERS act to reach the floor for a full vote.

    ————————
    Dear Mr. Wu:

    Thank you for contacting me with your suggestions regarding the war on drugs. I recognize the time and effort that you are dedicating to actively participate in the democratic process, and I appreciate that you and other concerned citizens have provided me the benefit of your comments on this matter.

    Illegal drug abuse is a threat to the fabric of our nation, causing more than 30,000 deaths and billions of dollars in economic losses each year. Efforts to stem the flow of illicit drugs and educate our citizens about the dangers of these substances should be a priority for policymakers nationwide.

    Our national drug control strategy must also focus on reducing the growing problem of counterfeit, misbranded, and adulterated substances in the medical and commercial supply chains. Many illegitimate outlets are marketing contaminated or knock-off prescription drugs, while others attempt to dodge existing laws by selling synthetic versions of illegal narcotics, such as heroin and cocaine. Unfortunately, these substances can have tragic effects—often causing serious injury or death. Members of the Senate must continue working to keep children and consumers safe by ensuring that existing laws and agencies provide the oversight necessary to protect consumers from the purveyors of these dangerous drugs.

    Furthermore, as you know, several states have legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. I support the Supreme Court’s 2001 decision ruling that the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is not a defense under federal law, but we should always have an open dialogue on social issues, even when they are issues on which we may disagree.

    I am always appreciative when Texans take the time to reach out and share their concerns. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

    Sincerely,
    JOHN CORNYN
    United States Senator

    517 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510
    Tel: (202) 224-2934
    Fax: (202) 228-2856
    http://www.cornyn.senate.gov
    —————————————-

  51. I live in texas all my life people here do not check out what people in politics stand for.. this pen head Greg Abbott told you marijuana was out when he got in to office. SO IF YOU VOTED FOR HIM YOU DID THIS.. I VOTED FOR WENDY DAVIS SHE WAS FOR MED. MARIJUANA… this nut wants to keep our jails full more police every where. waste of our tax money…

  52. Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, is sponsoring a bill
    that would not make it a crime to possess or use marijuana. Simpson
    says marijuana is “God’s plant” and has good uses, including medicinal
    purposes. I guess that reading comprehension is not your strong suit.

  53. Lydia/one2the92the82the5 on

    And Texans pride themselves on being “free”
    Free to be thrown in prison for life for a plant while worshipping instruments of death. The politics of Texas truly sickens me. They can secede any day now.

  54. Johnny oneye on

    Continuing prohibition is profitable
    and texass probably has the largest inmate population ,guards ,unions
    profit sharing, equitable sharing
    They all have their fingers in the POT
    and they will fight to keep the status quo
    #prohibition sux

  55. His statement says quite a bit about how much support there must be for such proposals. If the governor thought that there was zero chance of anything passing he would have been mute on the subject, but that is simply not what happened.

    I do hope that the movement in Texas uses this as motivation to charge ahead at full speed forcing the issue to a floor debate.

  56. Terminal Velocity Tommy on

    When did the article say that he said it in his state of the state address?

  57. You’re looking at the wrong address, there is no address up on youtube from this Monday, I looked around for it, the one you’re looking at is from FEB 13th.

  58. Look at this idiot, so disconnected that he doesn’t realize no one wants it illegal anymore. This is a prime example of why the people have 0 confidence in government, not only do they not listen but they don’t pay attention to anyone who does either.

  59. Branin A. Dietz on

    meanwhile, he is passing a bill that makes you pay for “open carry” when everyone who put him in office wants “constitutional carry”

  60. He’s probably planning for a future presidential run, and thinking continued prohibition is a safe bet. He’d be wrong.

  61. Do you have much hope for the federal court decision that’s supposed to come out later this month on the appeal of marijuana’s schedule 1 status?

  62. Gov Abbott NEVER SAID THAT!! (or anything like it) Go to youtube. and type “state of the state address abbott dallas” and watch the 47.04 minute video of Abbotts’ speech for yourself (I did twice last night). This is a bogus story. I wrote the author at Dallas News and received no response. Gov Abbott does NOT mention Marijuana nor Cannabis anywhere in his speech. It’s bogus

  63. Ironically, he promotes himself as a champion of freedom, and constitutional rights. His core issue is gun control; he supports the right to carry guns everywhere without restrictions. But somehow, marijuana is a public safety issue.

  64. Even here in Texas there is a majority that want change. Unfortunately, those that oppose legalization, control the criminal justice system, and pretty much everything else.
    Where I live police don’t just make arrests for marijuana, it’s a priority.
    They label anyone who smokes pot a
    “Scumbag”, and devote a lot of resources to making arrests for possession.

  65. He actually meant to say, “I will see Texas continuing to lead the way of diverting away from activity that involves helping anyone who is not a white, middle-class business owner.”

  66. This is why I hate the Republican Party so much these days. It’s full of backwards ass redneck assholes like this fool who refuse to look at MJ as nothing more than a ‘damn hippie drug’ like fuckface Richard Nixon did. How do idiots like this guy and James Inhoff continue to get elected??

  67. This Gov doesn’t see the writing on the wall do he? He won’t be around next term due to his stupidity concerning weed.

  68. PhDScientist on

    This is tragic. People in Texas deserve the right to have safe, legal, access to Medical Marijuana. I continue to hope that President Obama will agree with Surgeon General Murtha, the AMA, ASCO, and virtually every scientific and medical professional association that Marijuana needs to be taken of off of Schedule 1 immediately so that Physicians in all 50 states can prescribe it just like any other medication.

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