2015 Legislative Review

2015 was an exciting year for marijuana law reform in Texas!

Through polling and grassroots action during the legislative process, Texans affirm that they are dissatisfied with current polices and are ready for a change.

The 84th Texas Legislature introduced a record number of marijuana related bills for consideration. Each bill’s results vary — see below for details about each.

For the first time, a bill to eliminate the arrest, jail time, and criminal record associated with low-level marijuana possession was introduced, considered by committee, and supported by more Texans than any other bill! The Lone Star State also saw its first comprehensive, whole-plant medical marijuana bill and a bill to repeal marijuana prohibition entirely.

HISTORIC PROGRESS: Texas Legislators Acknowledge Cannabis as Medicine!!

Low-THC Medical Marijuana (SB 339) — Sen. Eltife (R-Tyler)
Signed by Gov. Abbott June 1, 2015!

While this program is very restrictive and there are concerns about whether or not it’ll be functional, this is an historic moment that reflects the great work done by advocates.

Bill Summary: Allows qualifying patients with intractable epilepsy to access low-THC cannabis oil by prescription.
Program Overview | Bill Analysis | Fiscal Note | Witness List | More Information
Senate Health and Human Services Committee Hearing Date: April 29, 2015
Senate HHS Committee Vote: 8-1
Senate Vote: 26-5
House Public Health Committee Vote: 7-1
House Vote: 108-38
Outcome: Signed into law June 1, 2015

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Low-THC Medical Marijuana (HB 892) — Rep. Klick (R-Fort Worth)
Bill Summary: Allows qualifying patients with intractable epilepsy to access low-THC cannabis oil by prescription.
Bill Analysis | Fiscal Note | Witness List | More Information
House Public Health Committee Hearing Date: April 28, 2015
House Public Health Committee Vote: 8-1
Outcome: Added to the Calendar for 5/14/15, but without time for a vote.

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Medical Marijuana (HB 3785) — Rep. Marisa Marquez (D-El Paso)

Texas Stand for Medical Marijuana
Texas Stand for Medical Marijuana

Bill Summary: Comprehensive medical marijuana program.

Bill Analysis | Fiscal Note | Witness List | More Information

House Public Health Committee Hearing Date: April 28, 2015
Outcome: Left Pending in Public Health

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Affirmative Defense (HB 837) — Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin)
Rep. Naishtat and Vincent Lopez
Bill Summary: Creates an affirmative defense to prosecution for patients using marijuana medicinally.

Bill Analysis | Fiscal Note | Witness List | More Information

House Public Health Committee Hearing Date: April 28, 2015
Outcome: Left Pending in Public Health

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Civil Penalties (HB 507) — Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso)

CP Press Conference 2014-12-15

Bill Summary: Eliminated the arrest, jail time, and criminal record associated with the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana — replacing them with a fine.

Bill Analysis | Fiscal Note | Witness List | More Information
House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Hearing Date: April 8, 2015
(Two hundred seven Texans visited the Capitol to support HB 507 while 17 people spoke against the bill — most of whom work for the government.)
House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Vote: Passed 4-2 on May 4, 2015
Outcome: Stalled in the Calendars Committee

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Decriminalization (HB 325) — Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston)
Bill Summary: Reduced penalty for 0.35 ounces or less of marijuana, moving the offense from a Class B misdemeanor to Class C.
Bill Analysis | Fiscal Note | Witness List | More Information
House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Hearing Date: April 8, 2015
Outcome: Author joined Rep. Moody as a joint author of HB 507; Left pending in committee.

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Decriminalization (HB 414) — Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston)
Bill Summary: Reduced penalty for one ounce or less of marijuana from a Class B misdemeanor to Class C.
Bill Analysis | Fiscal Note | Witness List | More Information
House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Hearing Date: April 8, 2015
Outcome: Author joined Rep. Moody as a joint author of HB 507; Left pending in committee.

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Repeal Marijuana Prohibition (HB 2165) — Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview)

David Simposon_God did not make a mistake copy for slideshow Bill Summary: Repeals all offenses associated with marijuana, except for minors.

Bill Analysis | Fiscal Note | Witness List | More Information

House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Hearing Date: April 8, 2015
(171 in support, 22 against — most of whom work for the government)
House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Vote: 5-2 on May 6, 2015
Outcome: Stalled in the Calendars Committee

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Hemp Research (HB 557) — Rep. Farias (D-San Antonio)
Bill Summary: Allows the cultivation of hemp for certain research purposes.
Bill Analysis | Fiscal Note | Witness List | More Information
House Agriculture & Livestock Committee Hearing Date: March 18, 2015
House Agriculture & Livestock Committee Vote: 7-0 on April 8, 2015
Outcome: Added to the Calendar for 5/14/15, but without time for a vote.

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Hemp Cultivation (HB 1322) — Rep. Farias (D-San Antonio)
Bill Summary: Allows the industrial production and sale of hemp in Texas.
Bill Analysis | Fiscal Note | Witness List | More Information
House Committee Hearing Date: March 18, 2015
Outcome: Left pending in Agriculture & Livestock Committee

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Two bills were filed but not considered by committee:

SB 1839 introduced by Senator Menendez (D-San Antonio) — Companion bill for HB 3785 (medical marijuana).

SB 1417 introduced by Senator Ellis (D-Houston) — Companion bill for HB 507 (civil penalties).