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Texas has 11 marijuana and hemp bills to consider

Over 300 people showed up to the Texas state capitol to lobby for marijuana law reform earlier this year.
Over 300 people showed up to the Texas state capitol to lobby for marijuana law reform earlier this year.

In the Texas legislature alone there are 11 cannabis bills pertaining to marijuana, medical marijuana, and hemp. There are another five bills in congress being considered as well which would impact Texans.

The big one to kick it all off is HB 2165 which would repeal marijuana prohibition in Texas by striking all references of marihuana from Texas law. HB 507 and SB 1417 drops possession of an ounce or less of marijuana to a $100 fine with no jail time and provides an exception to prosecution for possession of associated drug paraphernalia. Rounding it out is HB 325 which reduces the penalty for possession of 0.35 ounces or less of marihuana to a Class C misdemeanor. It would also decrease possession of less than two ounces to a Class B misdemeanor, and less than four ounces to a Class A misdemeanor.

On the medical side, introduced on the final day of legislative filing were two identical whole plant medical marijuana bills in both the Texas House and Senate which would give access to patients with an array of illnesses including cancer, seizure disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other debilitating conditions. HB 3785 and SB 1839 will also provide the ability for people to petition that their illness be included as a qualifying condition.

Other bills filed pertaining to medical cannabis also include HB 892 and SB 339, which both provide for medical use of low-THC cannabis and the regulation of related organizations and individuals. This has been dubbed by many as CBD-only legislation and it has received several complaints that it would severely limit access to medical marijuana, and would not be enacted until 2017 by the Department of Public Safety.

Also filed is HB 837 which provides an affirmative defense to patients in court permitting them to tell jurors that they use marijuana in a medical capacity. Currently patients are prohibited from telling jurors their marijuana consumption is for medical purposes.

There are two hemp bills as well, including HB 1322 which fully legalizes hemp for Texas farmers to grow, as well as HB 557 which legalizes hemp for research purposes by institutions of higher education.

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy has hired a lobbyist to help push through several of these bills, and they have entered into a coalition with other groups around the state including ACLU Texas, DFW NORML, Drug Policy Alliance, Drug Policy Forum of Texas, End Mass Incarceration, Hays Constitutional Republicans, Houston NORML, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Libertarian Christians, The Libertarian Party of Texas, Marijuana Policy Project, Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism, Parents for Liberty, Patient Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, Progress Texas, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas, Second Chance Democrats, Students for Liberty, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Texans for Accountable Government, Texans for Medical Freedom, Texas NORML, Texans Smart on Crime, and the Texas Tenth Amendment Center.

The bare minimum of support for marijuana legalization hovers around 58 percent in Texas, with about 77 percent supporting medical marijuana and changing the laws in general to reduce penalties for possession.

By: Stephen Carter

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. 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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