Last updateSat, 18 Jul 2015 9am

Back You are here: News



Texas HB 2165, introduced by Republican Representative David Simpson, was the main topic of the day at a Simpson Town Hall meeting at Tejas Cafe in Gladewater Saturday.

The bill would legalize cannabis by repealing all reference to marijuana in state law. Rep. Simpson says his policy justifications for desiring decriminalization are grounded in traditional Christian conservative values.
H.B. 2165 is bold yet simple. If enacted it would delete several provisions of Texas state law dealing with penalties related to cannabis use and possession. The bill is so thorough it would affect:
• Texas Code of Criminal Procedure
• Texas Health and Safety Code
• Texas Tax Code
• Texas Penal Code
• Texas Education Code
• Texas Government Code
Simpson believes government should treat cannabis no differently than other vegetative crops cultivated by humans for agricultural purposes.
Simpson addresses the issues surrounding HB 2165 by saying:

There is nothing like filing a bill where both sides of an issue have strongly held positions, and I have the opportunity to interact with all. I appreciate and respect those who have called, emailed, or posted on my Facebook page with their opinions on HB 2165 which would repeal all marijuana offenses in Texas statutes.

I do not advocate the irresponsible use of marijuana or any substance, but those are choices that should be made by individuals, not the state. We have plenty of laws to deal with those who harm their neighbor and these will remain in force if this law is passed.

Some of those in opposition to the concept have inferred that my comment in the op-ed that “as a Christian I see the innate goodness in all that God created” as approval of marijuana’s recreational use. That was not my point.

My point is that government has gotten it wrong when it comes to marijuana. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it is defined by the government as a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. However, since that classification, at least 23 states have legalized the plant for medical use. Marijuana, used irresponsibly, can have some bad side effects. But many pharmaceuticals, used as intended, have even worse side effects. Compare the side effects of prescription painkillers, antidepressants, or chemotherapy drugs to the side effects of marijuana. Should people be allowed to make a choice between the two? Also, compare the side effects of marijuana to the countless substances and activities, which may not be the best choice for the individual, but which we tolerate and do not prohibit.

When marijuana was originally outlawed most scholars agree that the laws were motivated by hype, racism, and perhaps an industry or two seeking to control competition from hemp in some commodities markets. Hemp, coming from the same plant as marijuana (but from a strain with extremely low THC), is the strongest and most durable of all natural fibers. It produces four times as much fiber per acre as pine trees and could be an ideal source of biomass for fuel. To this day, cultivation of industrial hemp requires a permit from the Drug Enforcement Agency (rarely given out) with conditions that the crop be surrounded by security measures such as fences, razor wire, security guards, or dogs.

Thus, we are missing out on both the medicinal and economic value of a plant God has given us that, coincidentally, can also be abused. Comments in emails and Facebook posts have focused on the fact that God also made poisonous snakes and hemlock, but that does not mean we should use them recreationally. That is so true, and I no more suggest that people should use marijuana recreationally than I suggest that people play with rattlesnakes. The difference is, the state does not prohibit playing with rattlesnakes, and some people actually bring them to the Capitol and let other people play with them.

Of course, another difference is that no one has ever died from the use of marijuana. It is nontoxic. This fact does not mean it’s a good idea for a person to use it recreationally, but it does underscore the fact that it does not need intense government regulation.

Meanwhile, I do not think it is right that we punish citizens who are not harming their neighbor. We may disagree with their use of the plant, but when should the state step in? We have 70,000 people incarcerated in Texas simply for possession of marijuana.

I understand the desire to send the right messages to our children. However, prohibition does more than send a message. It creates many problems. We may not want a teenager to experiment with marijuana, but would we rather that discussion be between parents and the child or the child and the police?

What motivated me to file the bill at this time is a desire to help constituents who desire access to the natural plant for treatment of seizures, PTSD, cancer, etc. I want to expand liberty and restore personal responsibility without creating another bureaucracy like the ATF on the state level to regulate it, nor a registry that a future federal administration might use as evidence of breaking federal law.

Getting back to the basics on this issue will put parents in charge of their children’s lives and adults in charge of their own. It is time to reject nanny state policies and restore limited civil government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility.

HB 2165 Frequently Asked Questions

Is marijuana a gateway drug? 
Perhaps, but is it a gateway because of the chemical influence or because of the criminal element that a person is involved with in obtaining the plant?

What can I do to help get the bill passed? 
Contact your elected officials and express your support for the bill. Pray for me.

Why do you encourage recreational use of marijuana by saying all things created by God are for good? 
What I said in my op-ed is that “As a Christian, I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same.” I do not encourage the irresponsible use of any plant, chemical, or other substance. I do not allow my children to consume caffeine until they are in their teenage years and then only in moderation. I instruct them on its addictive nature and potential abuse. Anything can be used for evil, but that does not make it evil. Cannabis can be used for much good.

Why do you want to legalize the plant that can harm you just because God made it? 
Many plants aren’t good for human consumption. Some of them can even kill you. However, we do not need to outlaw them to avoid their irresponsible use. To my knowledge there are no confirmed reports of dying from marijuana, unlike synthetic marijuana.

Won’t this increase impaired driving accidents? 
The research on driving accidents does not support any special fear about marijuana. While most studies will agree that the number of people who test positive for marijuana use in driving accidents has increased, there is less evidence to indicate that the drug use was directly related to the accident. Colorado accident rates were at a near historic low in 2013. The federal government recently conducted a study and concluded that marijuana potential contribution to accidents was not statistically significant.

Have you researched what legalization has done in Colorado?
Yes. It is mixed. I encourage you to do your own research of the issue and look at the information from both sides of the argument.

Do you believe that there should be some regulatory scheme to protect children from getting marijuana? 
My favorite regulatory scheme for minors is parents. They have the greatest opportunity of preventing bad behavior. Prohibiting the sale of tobacco and alcohol for minors has not stopped the use and abuse of those products, though education has.

Why are you bringing this bill up now? 
I filed the bill to help constituents who desire access to the natural plant for treatment of seizures, PTSD, cancer, etc. I want to expand liberty and restore personal responsibility without creating more bureaucracy. There are other bills promoting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, but they create a regulatory scheme that would be counter productive and create more government. They also create a registry of all medical users. Should the federal government choose to come into the state and enforce federal statutes, we would be giving them the information needed to prosecute.

What happens if someone smokes marijuana and has a car crash killing someone? 
Driving impaired is illegal, whether it be under the influence of cough medicine, alcohol, or marijuana. This bill would not change any penalties for harming another person currently in statute.

Why do you keep saying there are medical benefits when there are so many studies saying there aren’t? 
There are studies on both sides of this issue. To date, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. I am not a medical expert, but I have heard numerous first hand accounts from people in Texas and across the country that have said it has helped them, including veterans. I believe people should be given the freedom to make responsible decisions about their health without being criminals, and I trust them more than I do government to keep them safe from themselves.

Were you smoking marijuana when you came up with this idea?
No, and I never have.


Medical personal move a man from his vehicle to the ambulance after he reportedly shot himself from inside his vehicle after police pulled him over in connection from a robbery at Gladewater National Bank. An undetermined amount of money was taken from a teller inside the bank.

The man was reportedly pronounced dead at the hospital.
A witness to the event said he saw police stop the man, but did not hear a gunshot.


Sign up for SWEPCO Alerts and you will be notified by text message or email when there is an outage in your area. You'll also receive updates showing when electric service is expected to be restored.

Enroll at www.swepco.com/alerts. The service is free. However, phone usage or text charges may apply.

Once you have enrolled, you will receive an email, a text message or both when an outage has been reported in your area. Please confirm your outage by reporting it at SWEPCO.com or by calling 1-888-218-3919. Customers in the Texas Panhandle can report outages at 1-866-223-8508.

"We know being without power is an inconvenience," SWEPCO President and Chief Operating Officer Venita McCellon-Allen said. "These email and text alerts allow SWEPCO to share information with you as soon as it is available."

If you have multiple people in a home or business who would like to enroll in SWEPCO alerts, each person should register with a separate user identification and password on SWEPCO.com. Instructions are available atSWEPCO.com/alerts or by calling 1-888-216-3523. Customers in the Texas Panhandle may call 1-800-723-7430.

Tackling the growing synthetic drug problem

By Jim Bardwell
Recently Rep. David Simpson filed legislation which he hopes will help tackle the synthetic drug problem in East Texas and throughout the state. 
Simpson said since 2010 there has been an influx of designer drugs on the market that mimic the physiological effects of controlled substances. “These synthetic drugs are far more dangerous than their natural counterparts. Because the substances are designed to better fit the receptors in the brain, the intensity of their effect is amplified and the duration of their experience is extended,” Simpson explained about HB 1199.
“Imagine having a beer with friends,” Simpson continued. “You know that your tolerance for alcohol will allow you to have a beer and drive home without impairment. Then imagine that you drank a “synthetic beer” and the first time you are perfectly fine, but the next time instead of being able to drive you find yourself suffering from severe agitation and anxiety, nausea, vomiting, elevated heart rate, tremors, seizures, hallucinations, or temporary blindness.”
Simpson said the issue is complicated by the deceptive practices under which synthetic drugs are sold. Although they are designed to produce effects in humans that are similar to, or in excess of, controlled substances, they are not marketed as drugs. They are sold as something else. Often they are added to incense or potpourri, Simpson said.
“Simply banning these chemicals has not been effective. As soon as state and federal authorities move to place certain chemicals and compounds on controlled substance lists, producers make subtle changes to the chemical makeup of their products, staying one step ahead of the law,” Simpson said.
Gladewater Police Chief Rob Vine said while he applauds Simpson for his efforts with this bill, he believes more could be, and should be, done in regards to legislative efforts to provide law enforcement the tools we needed to attack this problem head on and achieve tangible results. Vine said synthetic drugs, specifically the K-2 variety, have had an extremely negative impact on the entire East Texas area.
“As if the task law enforcement has of keeping illegal narcotics off of the streets and out of the hands of our youth isn’t hard enough, agencies are forced to deal with individuals who are under the very real influence of these fake substances, which are not always considered to be illegal in the eyes of the State of Texas.  It is a problem of being able to specifically identify what synthetic, or real drug, you are dealing with and then being able to determine whether or not possessing or using whatever it is actually is a criminal offense,” said Vine.
“To see a proposed bill like HB 1199 is a good thing. If this bill were to pass into law, it could ultimately provide law enforcement with an alternative angle from which to attack this problem, however, I do not believe this will be the answer that we have all been looking for.” 
Vine said most every package of K-2 clearly states somewhere on it that it is “Not for human consumption”.  It is sold as a novelty item, as a potpourri or as a sort of incense. HB 1199 bill states, “producing, selling, distributing, or promoting a synthetic substance that produces and is intended to produce an effect when consumed or ingested similar to, or in excess of, the effect of a controlled substance or controlled substance analogue, as those terms are defined by Section 481.002, Health and Safety Code.”  Vine’s initial reaction to this particular wording is that any defense attorney who has done their homework will be able to successfully present the obvious argument – “The writing on the front of package clearly stated, ‘Not for human consumption’, so how could this product [K-2] be intended to produce an effect similar to a controlled substance when consumed or ingested when that was obviously not the way the manufacturer intended this product to be used?”
Vine said when it comes to prosecutions, it all boils down to “it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.”
“At the risk of over simplifying things, perhaps a bill should be proposed which addresses possessing, using or selling any substance, regardless of whether or not it was originally designed, or intended to, produce an effect when consumed or ingested similar to, or in excess of, the effect of a controlled substance or controlled substance.
“We will never be able to stay ahead of, or predict, what the chemical make-up of the next trending designer drug will be, so it would make sense to focus our efforts on attacking this particular problem from another angle.”


East Texas Dealer FOR The People named DealerRater.com Texas Buick Dealer of the Year

East Texas Dealer FOR The People, McKaig Chevrolet Buick, has just been notified it has been named the www.DealerRater.com TEXAS BUICK Dealer of the Year, according to Mark Abernathy, President and Kent Abernathy, Dealer Operator. The Abernathys' also said McKaig Chevrolet Buick was top five finalist for the TEXAS CHEVROLET Dealer of the Year award as well. 

McKaig is the first and only East Texas Car Dealer to receive a DealerRater Texas Dealer of the Year award for any Franchise. DealerRater's Dealer of the Year Award Program recognizes a select number of car dealerships throughout the United States and Canada for outstanding customer satisfaction as expressed through customers' online reviews posted on DealerRater.
DealerRater is the Nation's Leading Auto Dealer Review site and started these awards in 2009. Through this award program, a select number of car dealerships throughout the United States and Canada are awarded for “outstanding customer satisfaction” as expressed through customer online reviews posted on DealerRater's website. 
DealerRater's Dealer of the Year awards are given to car dealerships that have the highest PowerScore in their brand category at both the national level as well as the state level within the represented brand categories. PowerScore is determined by customer service, quality of work, friendliness, pricing, and overall guest experience.
McKaig Chevrolet Buick, A Dealer FOR The People, has also recently been recognized as the “only” car dealer in the state of Texas to receive the Edmunds.com 5 Star Premier Dealer Award two (2) years in a row. ALL Edmunds Premier Car Dealers in TEXAS representing All brands are eligible for the award. 
Edmunds also featured McKaig last year in a national article for their innovation & mission to change the car buying experience one guest a time. Among other benefits, McKaig provides their guests with a “Buyer's Bill of Rights”, FREE Oil Changes For Life, Guest Concierge Services, Non-Commissioned Sales Solution Specialists in the showroom in lieu of commissioned salesmen and is Ranked #1 in East Texas by online reviewers on independent 3rd party sites. The Abernathys' say they are proud to be different than most other car dealerships. “We have an outstanding & caring staff that truly want to treat folks with dignity and respect while helping them with their transportation needs & challenges. Our team provides a great experience and we are fortunate that our guests take the time to write reviews. For that we are truly grateful!”

City, school, KC college races set

By Jim Bardwell
Filing for the May 9 election closed Friday at 5 p.m. , leaving two unchallenged seats and two contested races on the Gladewater City Council.
Place 4 incumbent Chris Bland and Place 7 incumbent  John “J.D.” Shipp will retain their seats after drawing no challengers.
However, incumbent Elijah “Sonny” Anderson will be facing Winn King for the Place 5 seat.
Place 6 will be a three-man race, as incumbent Scott Owens faces Dennis Robertson and Mark Carpenter.
The first day of early voting will be Monday, April 27, 2015, and will run until Tuesday, May 5, 2015.
The last day to register to vote is Thursday, April 9, 2015.
Over in the Gladewater ISD school board races, there were no challengers to newcomer Jeff Cook, who is seeking the seat currently held by Matt Byrd, and incumbent George Glenn. So by law, GISD taxpayers will not have to incur the cost of an election.
In the Kilgore College May 9 election, incumbent James Walker is being challenged by Jim Dunaway for Kilgore College’s North Zone Place 2 seat, which represents Gladewater, Sabine and the White Oak area.
Joe White is challenging  incumbent Karol Pruett for the Central Zone, Unit 3, Place 3 on the KC board, while Lon Ford has filed to run for Unit 3, Place 6, Central Zone. Cecelia Sanders is running for the South Zone, Unit 1, Place 1 seat, which represents the Leverett’s Chapel, West Rusk and Overton areas.


Bill to End Marijuana Prohibition in Texas Filed on Texas Independence Day by Rep. Simpson

AUSTIN - Today Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) filed House Bill 2165 to strike all references to marijuana offenses from the Texas statutes. This represents a comprehensive repeal of marijuana prohibition in Texas.

“We can’t fix all of the past wrongs caused by prohibition, but at least we can stop perpetuating them,” said Representative Simpson.

This is perhaps the first bill of its kind in the nation that proposes to simply undo prohibition and avoid the big government approach taken in other states that basically re-regulate the plant.

“I am proposing that this plant be regulated like tomatoes, jalapeños or coffee.” Rep. Simpson continued, “Current marijuana policies are not based on science or sound evidence, but rather misinformation and fear. All that God created is good, including marijuana. God did not make a mistake when he made marijuana that the government needs to fix. Let’s allow the plant to be utilized for good—helping people with seizures, treating warriors with PTSD, producing fiber and other products—or simply for beauty and enjoyment. Government prohibition should be for violent actions that harm your neighbor—not of the possession, cultivation, and responsible use of plants.”

In 1914 during the height of Pancho Villa’s revolution in Mexico, many refugees and young Mexican men seeking work began moving across the Texas border. In response, the City of El Paso passed the first ordinance in the nation outlawing use of the marijuana plant as a means to address what were perceived as foreign and rowdy young men disturbing the peace.

A few years later the Texas Legislature passed its first marijuana prohibition law with little fanfare besides an alleged racist statement on the senate floor about Mexicans. The American national story of prohibition is not much different. Many scholars believe that these laws were originally motivated by racism and perhaps some industries seeking to control competition from hemp in commodities markets.

The Simpson bill is poised to reframe the current marijuana discussion by bringing it back to the basics: limited civil government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility.