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The 16 cannabis bills Texans could be affected by

DFWNormlStPatDallasParadeThere are currently 16 cannabis related bills which could affect Texans if passed this year.

In the Texas legislature alone there are 11 cannabis bills pertaining to marijuana, medical marijuana, and hemp.

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. HB  will also provide the ability for people to petition that their illness be included as a qualifying condition.

Bills already filed pertaining to medical cannabis though include a pair of identical bills in both the House and Senate. Both HB 892 and SB 339 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 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.

Texas Marijuana Policy Advocacy Workshops — January 2018
Texas Marijuana Policy Advocacy Workshops — January 2018

On the federal level there are currently five bills pertaining to marijuana legalization, taxing marijuana, medical marijuana, and hemp.

H.R. 1013 would direct the Attorney General to issue a final order that removes marijuana in any form from all schedules of controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act. This effectively ends federal involvement in marijuana at the state and local level.

H.R. 1014 would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for the taxation of marijuana, and for other purposes. Currently it is technically illegal for state-approved marijuana businesses to operate due to the federal business income tax system. If only this bill is passed, it would make it easier for these business to pay their federal taxes and possibly become involved in the banking system, even though marijuana would federally remain illegal.

In the Senate, S. 683 would effectively end the federal government’s involvement in state medical marijuana programs and enable research into the medicinal properties of marijuana.

Lastly, a pair of identical hemp bills, H.R. 525 and S. 134, have been introduced in the House and Senate which would end federal prohibition of hemp farming.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 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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