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Texas marijuana bills clear deadline for House consideration

Texans rallied at the state capitol in Austin two days before the Monday deadline for bills to make it past committee.
Texans rallied at the state capitol in Austin two days before the Monday deadline for bills to make it past committee.

Three marijuana bills have made it out of committee in the Texas legislature before the Monday night deadline.

Of the 11 total pieces of legislation submitted this session, a limited CBD only medical marijuana bill, a penalty reduction bill, and a bill which removes all penalties for cannabis now awaits scheduling in the Texas House. A companion bill for CBD medical marijuana has already passed out of the Texas Senate on a 26-5 vote.

A bill which received strong support but did not make it out of committee was House Bill 3785, introduced by Rep. Marisa Marquez a Democrat from El Paso, would have established a whole plant medical marijuana program similar to the ones found in 23 other states where medical cannabis has been legalized.

Rep. Myra Crownover, a Republican from Denton, chaired the Public Health Committee which heard testimony from over 70 people in support of the bill. Despite zero testimony against the legislation, Crownover refused to bring it to a vote in committee, ensuring that there would be no recorded stances on the matter.

The CBD medical marijuana bill which did pass out of committee however, House Bill 892, and its companion bill which has already cleared the Senate, would provide limited access to only the CBD compound of the cannabis plant. During the Public Health Committee hearing, many parents testified that the legislation would not help their children, many of which who have severe seizures. If made into law, the legislation would not go into effect until 2017.

House Bill 507, introduced by Rep. Joe Moody, a Democrat from El Paso, would create a fine up to $250 for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, and would not involve an arrest or criminal record, would drastically reduce the current penalty for possession of cannabis.

Possession of two ounces or less in Texas is a misdemeanor punishable by 180 days in jail, a $2,000 fine, loss of drivers license, and a criminal record.

The bill originally was voted down in the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee while several members were not present. However after extensive contact from constituents, another vote was held and it passed 4-2.

Also passed out of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee was House Bill 2165, which removes all penalties for marijuana in Texas, however it still makes it illegal to provide marijuana to minors. It passed on a 5-1 vote.

Submitted by Rep. David Simpson, a Republican from Longview, he cited the legislation as being for his constituents, many of which who need it in a medical capacity. He has stated in defense of the bill that “God did not make a mistake when he created marijuana.”

All three pieces of legislation are currently in the Calendar Committee, waiting to be scheduled for discussion by the full Texas House of Representatives. Proponents of the bills expect HB 892 to be passed, while HB 507 is likely to at least be debated on the floor. It is unknown whether or not HB 2165 will be scheduled.

By: Stephen Carter

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*Editors note: We incorrectly identified the bill number in the final paragraph as 3785, rather than as 892.

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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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