The Texas House of Representatives Has Passed New Cannabis Bill
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Will Texas Pass New Cannabis Measures In 2021?
After 2 consecutive days, the Texas House of Representatives has approved a piece of marijuana reform legislation. The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this week. The goal of this new bill is to significantly increase the state’s medical cannabis program. In addition to this bill a separate proposal to reduce punishment for possessing marijuana concentrates.
A broader cannabis decriminalization bill was also getting ready to be taken up by the chamber. Advocates have been closely observing the House as members think about a slew of reform bills this session. This week has been a lot of work towards figuring out drug policy in the Lone Star State. Texas is a place where legislators in the House Public Health Committee on Monday also approved a measure requiring the state to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. This new cannabis proposal that was recently passed in Texas would add cancer, chronic pain, and PTSD as conditions that could qualify people for the state’s limited medical cannabis program.
It passed in the House Public Health Committee in early April. The cannabis bill would further allow the Department of State Health Services to add more qualifying conditions. As well it would also increase the THC level for medical marijuana products. As first introduced to the floor, the bill would have only allowed PTSD as a qualifying condition for military veterans. However its sponsor, Rep. Stephanie Klick introduced a change to allow anyone with PTSD to access medical cannabis.
“Believe it or not, the number [of people with PTSD] is actually higher for survivors of sexual assault, than it is for veterans,” she said. “And we need to include them, in that sexual assault is more likely to cause PTSD than any other event.”
The Progress Of Texas Cannabis Reform
Still, cannabis supporters want even more extensive developments to the medical cannabis law than would be brought about under the current bill.
“HB 1535 expands our state’s current program, but still leaves behind most patients who can benefit from cannabis,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, stated in an interview “Texans deserve a comprehensive medical cannabis program similar to what New Mexico, Oklahoma, and 34 other states have established for their citizens.”
Jax Finkel of Texas NORML stated that the PTSD amendment is an “extremely important” development for sufferers and she hopes advocates “will be able to further improve this legislation with recommended amendments in the Senate.”
Klick mentioned her floor revision also “clarifies chronic pain as a qualifying condition” by eliminating the likelihood medical marijuana could be recommended for “acute” pain. The House accepted the amended measure in a voice vote. Another vote on the third reading is expected to happen soon to formally send it to the Senate.
The 2nd cannabis bill, which was passed the chamber with a victorious vote of 108-33. What this bill would do is produce a new drug schedule for products containing THC. Which would hold somewhat lower punishments compared to where they are currently classified. Furthermore, possession of up to 56 grams of concentrates would still be a class B misdemeanor that does still carry the threat of jail time. The bill made it through the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee earlier this month. As well the bill was passed on the second reading on Tuesday before getting final approval Wednesday. Advocates have been encouraged with the progress they’ve seen this session, and there’s still more to come real soon
Final Thoughts On Texas Cannabis Legislation
Back On Thursday, the House voted on another piece of cannabis legislation. This reform measure would decriminalize possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana. As well as, making the offense a Class C misdemeanor that does not sanction jail time. Furthermore, the bill would end the fear of being arrested for low-level possession. It will also allow people the possibility to avoid a conviction by providing deferrals and dismissals. The full House supported a cannabis decriminalization bill in 2019. However, the bill did not make it through the Senate that session.
At the start of April, the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee also considered more legislation. This particular bill would make specific modifications to the state’s hemp program. As well as imposing rules associated with the transportation and testing of consumable hemp products.
While most Texas lawmakers have historically opposed most cannabis legislation, there are indications that this time around things may be different. House Speaker Dade Phelan mentioned during a Texas Young Republicans event that while he wouldn’t be able to recognize marijuana from oregano, he stated, “I understand the issue.”
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The speaker mentioned that he voted for a limited medical cannabis legalization bill. This happened during his first year in the legislature. Also, his support for the bill is somewhat based on the fact that he has a “sister with severe epilepsy, and small amounts of CBD oil makes a big difference in people’s lives.”