Advocates are optimistic that lawmakers will promote cannabis legislation this year after the introduction of bills to decriminalize marijuana, expand the state’s medical cannabis program and hemp regulation. The bills were scheduled for separate hearings by the Texas legislature three house committees within the week.
Five of the bills debated by the Criminal Justice Jurisprudence Committee look to decriminalize marijuana possession rendering it a class C offense with no jail term, with the amount you may have in possession varying from one to four ounces. A separate bill by Rep. Terry Canales (D) proposes the possession of cannabis concentrates be considered a class B misdemeanor for quantities less than ten grams and a class A misdemeanor for quantities more than ten grams but less than twenty.
On Wednesday, the House Public Health Committee heard testimony on a bill introduced by Chairwoman Stephanie Klick. The bill proposes the addition of cancer, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (for veterans only) to the list of conditions that may qualify people to be part of the state’s restricted medical cannabis program.
Another bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee on Thursday. It seeks to improve the state’s hemp policy, including introducing laws on transportation and testing of consumable hemp items.
Legislators have until May 31st to get every bill through the committee and onto the floor of each house. Regardless of the state’s other problems like the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislators have been working hard to ensure the marijuana issue is not overlooked.
A survey by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune found that sixty percent of Texas residents support the legalization of marijuana for any use. Leaders in both houses may look at more modest proposals amidst concerns that the senate might be an obstacle to the reforms, having previously failed to enact a cannabis decriminalizing bill approved by the house in 2019.