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Several marijuana bills referred to committee in Texas Senate

Four bills in the Texas Senate pertaining to marijuana were referred to committee today.

The cannabis legalization movement’s flagship bill, SB 269, was referred to the Health and Human Services Committee. This bill would implement a whole plant medical marijuana program, likely replacing the Texas Compassionate Use Act which was passed in 2015 legalizing CBD oil extracts for children with epilepsy. That program is currently slated to be implemented by the Texas Department of Public Safety later this year.

This bill, introduced by Senator Jose Menendez, a Democrat out of San Antonio, would see a number of patients qualify for the program, much like those found in 28 other states.

“Doctors, not politicians, should be determining what is best for Texas patients,” said Senator Menéndez during a press conference late last year. “This is legitimate medicine that can help a of variety people, from the grandmother suffering from cancer to the veteran coping with PTSD after returning home from war.”

Two other bills of note are a pair of joint resolutions which were referred to the Criminal Justice Committee.

Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 17 would put marijuana legalization up for a statewide vote in 2018. SJR 18 is similar, but will instead put medical marijuana up for a statewide vote. Both bills would require two-thirds approval by both the House and Senate, however they would by-pass Governor Greg Abbott’s desk and go straight to the voters. Abbott has stated that he opposes further legalization, though by some accounts he has left the door open for a medical cannabis program expansion.

The fourth bill, SB 268 which was referred to the Health and Human Services Committee, would require drug testing for marijuana, among other drugs, in order to receive benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Efforts to drug test for benefits in other states have ended up costing more money in the long run than what was saved by the low percentage of people who tested positive.

Consumers of marijuana are more likely to be cause by random drug testing than consumers of other drugs. While many substances are in and our of the system within a few days, metabolites from marijuana can stay in a person’s system anywhere from a week up through six weeks.

These bills will next see action when they are assigned to sub-committees and voted on before going to the full committee for a vote. Should they pass out of committee they’ll then be scheduled for a hearing by the full Senate and will then move on to the House.

In all, 17 bills pertaining to cannabis have been filed.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas and serves as Deputy Director for NORML of Waco. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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