Texas cannabis legislation: SB 339, HB 3785, HB 2165, SB 1839

Texas cannabis legislation has made good progress this year. Multiple bills are pending in the House and Senate. One bill strikes all reference to marijuana in Texas statutes, so that cannabis plants may be treated like any other agricultural crop. The bill’s sponsor believes Texans’ right to cannabis is grounded in traditional Christian, conservative American values. Other bills would create a legal framework for adult use of cannabis and lower the legal penalty for possession of small amounts of cannabis.

The legislature in Texas is scheduled to end its session on June 1.

“Unworkable” CBD Bill Passes Senate

Texas population dispensaryTexas currently has no laws permitting safe, legal use of cannabis, not even for medical purposes. State Rep. Stephanie Klick, a Republican from Fort Worth, and State Sen. Kevin Eltife, a Republican from Tyler, hoped to correct this travesty by filing HB 892 and SB 339 in January. The identical pieces of compassionate use legislation would legalize CBD oil for treatment of epilepsy patients.

Advocates consider these bills unworkable because they ask doctors to “prescribe” cannabis to qualifying patients, something that under federal law could put their medical licenses in danger. The usual approach in states with good medical cannabis laws is having doctors “recommend” or “certify” cannabis for qualifying patients.

These laws are also impractical because they put such a narrow and overly restrictive limit on the amount of THC allowed in the CBD oil sold in Texas.

  • Texas SB 339 was voted favorably by the Senate on May 7.
  • Texas HB 892 passed through a House committee by a vote of 8-1. It may receive a vote on the Floor of the House this week.
  • Intractable seizures as many as 150,000 Texans.

Lower Penalties For Small Possession

A bill introduced by Rep. Joe Moody, a Republican from El Paso, would lower the penalty for possession of one ounce or less of cannabis to a $250 civil penalty. A substitute bill, HB 507, passed through committee and would lower the penalty from an arrestable offense and a class B misdemeanor.

  • The bill was co-signed and and co-authored by 40 other Texas legislators but is not expected to pass into law.

Better legislation not gaining favor

Two companion bills in the House and Senate would create a legal market for medical cannabis.

HB 3785, and its companion SB 1839, would allow patients with a doctor’s authorization to purchase and use medicines derived from cannabis.

Rep. Marisa Marquez, a Democrat from El Paso who introduced the House bill said Texas needs a “scientific and reasoned approach” to medical marijuana. She encouraged her fellow lawmakers not to stand between a patient and their doctor.

Sen. Jose Menendez, a Democrat from San Antonio, proposed the companion bill in the senate.

  • The comprehensive, 40 page document, would allow cannabis to be used to treat ailments including cancer, seizure disorders, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and other debilitating conditions.

Unlikely Legislative Turn on Religious Grounds

A bill introduced by tea party Republican State Rep. David Simpson of Longview would remove all legal restrictions on cannabis.

Simpson introduced HB 2165, saying he was making the “Christian case” for marijuana. In a Texas Tribune editorial Simpson wrote “I don’t believe that when God made marijuana, he made a mistake that government needs to fix.” The sweeping bill would allow for legal, recreational marijuana use for adults.

  • While the bill passed out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, a surprising victory for the bill, it has a slim chance of passing into law.