With a record number of marijuana-related bills introduced for consideration, lawmakers had plenty of opportunity to change the state’s harsh and unreasonable laws. Our opponents worked to prevent any kind of reform from advancing, using fear tactics and shady procedural tricks. But this issue is too important for us to be intimidated!
Tens of thousands of Texans contacted their elected officials and hundreds joined us at the Capitol to educate lawmakers, offer testimony, and rally support for meaningful marijuana law reform. We gave it our all and had a significant impact, passing both of our priority policies out to the House and successfully improving the one medical cannabis bill that did pass into law.
Here’s the final status report on the most relevant legislation:
HB 1325 – Legalize Industrial Hemp – PASSED! (Details below.)
HB 3703 – Expand the Compassionate Use Program (Limited) – PASSED! (Details below.)
(Email our legislators about their vote on this bill.)
HB 63 – Penalty Reduction for Possession: Passed overwhelmingly in the House, but single-handedly stalled by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. (Email our legislators about their vote on this bill.)
HB 1365 – Expand and Fix the Compassionate Use Program, Establish Review Board: Passed overwhelmingly in the House, but never received a hearing in the Senate.
The legalization of industrial hemp is HUGE for Texas, especially for our farmers who were being cut out of the hemp industry, and it’s good that more people can access the Compassionate Use Program, even if it’s only low-THC cannabis. However, these bills do little to help most Texas patients who desperately need relief and, because of the legislature’s failure, another 120K+ Texans will be arrested for marijuana possession between now and the next legislative session in 2021.
We have a lot more work to do and will remain relentless in our pursuit of meaningful reform!
We have 19 months until bills can be pre-filed for the 2021 legislative session. Let’s make them count by continuing to educate elected officials and participating in the primary and general elections. Let’s hold them accountable.
Stay tuned for opportunities to take action locally. Thank you for your continued support and dedication to our shared cause!
More info about the two cannabis bills that passed into law:
HB 1325 (industrial hemp) passed with unanimous votes in both the Texas House and Senate! This bill legalizes in-state cultivation of hemp and regulates retail hemp products. The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) will have 60 days to establish and send rules and regulations to the the US government for approval. As stated by a TDA representative during the Senate hearing, it is expected that cultivation licenses will be granted by the end of 2019 and crops can be planted in early 2020. (For hemp business questions or advice, contact a consulting firm.)
HB 3703 was passed with bipartisan support and provides a limited expansion of the Compassionate Use Program. (Policy Overview.)
Good News: Thanks to the bill sponsor, Sen. Donna Campbell, HB 3703 was amended to include terminal cancer, incurable neurodegenerative diseases (ex: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, etc.), autism, ALS, all epilepsy disorders, multiple sclerosis, and spasticity.
Two other favorable amendments were also included: patients no longer need approval from two specialists in order to participate and the bill now includes an attempt to protect doctors by defining a “prescription” for low-THC cannabis as an entry into the Compassionate Use Registry.
Bad News: Unfavorable amendments include the stripping of patient protection for students and the removal of all references to in-state cannabis research. It’s also disappointing that this bill maintains the current (and arbitrary) cap on THC at .5% and continues to neglect consumer protection concerns about the lack of independent, third-party testing.
This bill does not do enough, leaving behind the vast majority of patients who could benefit from access to medical cannabis. We still have work to do! (Email our legislators about their vote on this bill.)