Cannabis decriminalization bill filed in Texas has bipartisan support
Expansion of the state's medical program was also introduced.
With midterm elections in the rearview, politicians aren’t wasting any time proposing legislation for the upcoming year. And in Texas, that includes decriminalization of cannabis, as well as an expansion of the state’s current and extremely limited medical marijuana program.
More specifically, House Bill 63 would penalize those caught with less than an ounce of marijuana with a civil penalty, instead of arrests and criminal records. Senate Bill 90, meanwhile, would expand the medical conditions that would allow patients to be prescribed medical marijuana, and would provide more protections for doctors responsible for prescribing it. Currently, the Compassionate Use Act only allows those with intractable epilepsy to use a low-THC cannabis oil to alleviate their symptoms.
Rep. Joe Moody (D), who authored House Bill 63, is confident about possible decriminalization. Earlier this year, Moody stated the civil penalties bill “will be the first bill I file this coming session,” and believes newfound bipartisan support could push it through.
“There’s been an incredible swell of bipartisan support since last session, and the official Texas Republican and Democratic platforms both approve of this kind of reform now,” Moody said in a statement. “I’m optimistic that this will be the session we finally see smarter, fairer marijuana laws in Texas.”
Texas Republicans adopted marijuana decriminalization into its party platform earlier this summer. It’s the first time the state party has done so. In addition, Governor Greg Abbott revealed a new leniency toward cannabis law reform in a reelection debate.
“One thing I don’t want to see is jails stockpiled with people who have possession of a small amount of marijuana,” Abbott said.
“I would be open to talking to the legislature about reducing the penalty for [marijuana] possession of two ounces or less from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class C misdemeanor,” he added.
However, Abbott is not so supportive of expanding the state’s medical marijuana program, which is what Senate Bill 90 would accomplish. The author of the bill, State Sen. Jose Menendez (D), said “doctors, not politicians, should determine what is best for Texas patients.
The bill would add medical conditions like PTSD, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and more to the state’s medical marijuana program. Menendez also noted in a statement that medical patients have access to marijuana in each state bordering Texas, “including conservative states like Oklahoma and Arkansas.”