Texas lawmakers have only expanded the cannabis and psychedelics reform laws
Texas lawmakers recently tabled two drug reform bills suggesting that the Lone Star State may finally be ready to relax some of its extreme drug bans laws.
The state House of Representatives has just passed a bill that aims to reduce criminal penalties for anyone heaped with pot concentrate. This proposal would downgrade charges for possession of up to two ounces of cannabis concentrates to a Class B offense. Currently, anyone caught with two ounces of THC concentrates can be charged with a second degree crime punishable by a fine of $ 10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 20 years. As an offense, the maximum penalty would be a fine of $ 2,000 and a prison term of 6 months.
The House approved the bill on Tuesday by a decisive 140-5 vote and sent it to the Senate, which has yet to approve it before it can become law. And now that they have won that small victory, progressive lawmakers have proposed even more cannabis reform laws. Later this week the House will be debating a decriminalization bill that would reduce the penalty for owning up to an ounce of pot to a Class C offense that carries a fine but no risk of jail time.
“With about 30 days into the legislature, we are thrilled that Texas House is driving significant changes to our state’s marijuana laws,” said Heather Fazio, Texans director for Responsible Marijuana Policy, of Marijuana Moment. “Now the focus is shifting to the Senate, which historically was a steep battle for promotion.”
Lawmakers are also working on separate proposals to update the state’s severely restricted medical marijuana program. Under current law, Texans suffering from a limited number of qualification conditions are allowed to use CBD medicinal products with THC levels of 0.5 percent or less. According to a recent survey, large numbers of Texans illegally use medical pots from the black market or other states, and a significant portion of those pots helped them get away from opioids and other drugs.
This week the State House will be considering a new bill to expand the state’s list of eligible conditions for medical marijuana to include veterans with PTSD and anyone with cancer or chronic pain. The bill would also increase the THC limit for medicinal pots from 0.5 percent to 5 percent and allow the state health department to add new qualification requirements at its own discretion.
“We are facing a busy week,” Jax Finkel, general manager of Texas NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “We are confident that kind amendments can improve this important piece of legislation further … I hope that today’s movement creates the conditions for that [is] come the rest of the week. ”
Lawmakers also put forward another bill that could eventually legalize psychedelic assisted therapy for veterans. On Monday, the House Public Health Committee approved a bill requiring the state to investigate the therapeutic benefits and potential risks of using psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine to help veterans with PTSD. The studies would be conducted by Baylor College of Medicine and a military-facing medical center and would have to be completed and submitted to the state by December 2024.