The 85-Year-Old Texan Fighting for Marijuana Reform

Ann Lee, founder of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (RAMP), says it was her son’s health that prompted her activism.

By Rhonda FanningMarch 5, 2015 9:56 am|

A new bill in the Texas House of Representatives would strike all references to marijuana from state statutes. Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) filed House Bill 2165 on Monday. The bill would effectively end the state-wide prohibition of the drug.

The bill is notable because it’s being championed by a Republican, a rarity elsewhere in the country and unprecedented in the Texas legislature. While HB 2165 wouldn’t expressly legalize the plant, it would remove any restrictions or prohibitions against its use or the growing of marijuana across the state, amounting to de facto legalization.

Behind the push for marijuana reform is 85-year-old lobbyist Ann Lee. As the founder of Republicans Against the Prohibition of Marijuana (RAMP), Lee said her experience caring for her paraplegic son led to her to advocate for an end to marijuana prohibition.

“Spasticity is a real problem for spinal cord injuries and for Richard it seemed to be a real problem,” Lee recalls. “And I can remember to this day, this young man, who always marched to a different drum, but would not lie his way out of something, looked at us and said, ‘Mom and Dad, marijuana is good for me.'”

Lee says her son’s experience with marijuana led her to question her political beliefs.

“Where has the harm come from Marijuana prohibition? From the laws, it’s the laws that have caused the harm. What RAMP tries to do, is to try and make people understand that there is such a thing as bad law. Marijuana prohibition is simply bad law.”

Rep. Simpson’s bill tackled the issue of marijuana reform from a different angle; in an op-ed for the Texas Tribune, Simpson stated, “I don’t believe when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.”