CLE Approved! Texas Marijuana Policy Conference | Friday, August 30

We are proud to partner with Texas A&M School of Law to offer continuing legal education (CLE) credit for several sessions at the upcoming Texas Marijuana Policy Conference in Austin!

The Labor Day weekend event features dozens of breakout sessions, nearly 100 policy and industry experts, and several exceptional keynote speakers, including Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. Event details and registration can be found here.

The following sessions are open to all conference attendees, but attorneys are especially encouraged to attend to earn up to 4 CLE credit hours on Friday, August 30:

11:15am Sessions
The Texas Compassionate Use Program: What is Covered, Who Qualifies, and What’s Changed? (CLE Accredited)

  • John Pitts Jr. (Texas Star Alliance)
  • Chase Bearden (Coalition of Texans with Disabilities)
  • Lisa Pittman (Partner, Thomas Pittman P.C.)

Federal Marijuana Prohibition: The Current Landscape and A Review of Proposed Legislation. (CLE Accredited)

  • Professor Franklin Snyder (Texas A&M School of Law)
  • Michael Correia (National Cannabis Industry Association)
  • Justin Strekal (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws)
  • Margot Witvliet, Ph.D. (Lamar University)

2pm Session – Marijuana Prohibition from a Law Enforcement Perspective (CLE Accredited)

  • Pete Stout, Ph.D (Houston Forensics Science Center)
  • Shannon Edmonds (Texas District and County Attorneys Association)
  • Professor Julie Stone (Adjunct professor at Texas State and former prosecutor with Texas Attorney General’s office)

3:15pm Session – Hemp in Texas: Issues in Implementation (CLE Accredited)

  • Courtney Barnes (Associate Attorney, Vicente Sederberg LLP)
  • Chelsie Spencer (Partner, Ritter Spencer PLLC)
  • Richard Y. Cheng (Partner, DLA Piper, LLP)

4:30pm Session – Legal and Scientific Issues in Increasing Medical Cannabis Research (CLE Accredited)

  • Sue Sisley, MD (Lead Investigator, Scottsdale Research Institute)
  • Shane Pennington (Attorney, Yetter Coleman LLP)
  • Matthew Zorn (Attorney, Yetter Coleman LLP)

The laws surrounding medical marijuana and hemp cultivation in Texas, and the rest of the United States, have been changing rapidly. With an expanded Texas Compassionate Use Act for certain medical uses of cannabis and the legalization of hemp cultivation in the state, the legal landscape is in flux. The legal landscape, in turn, is embedded into broader questions of federal administrative regulations, medical research and forensic science issues, and public policies regarding public health, public safety, agriculture, and commerce. This program will bring together legal academics, lawyers, medical researchers, forensic scientists, public policy experts, and legislative lobbyists to bring lawyers up to date on the changing patchwork of legalization in Texas.

The five accredited sessions are a joint product of the Texas A&M University School of Law and Texans for Responsible Marijuana, a Texas nonprofit association. While there are five hour-long sessions, two are running concurrently, so a maximum of four hours of CLE credit can be earned. More detail about each session here.

Register now:

 

Interested in the Texas cannabis industry? Join us over Labor Day weekend!

The primary focus of this year’s Texas Marijuana Policy Conference is to share information and rally action to advance more sensible and compassionate laws in our state. This year, in addition to discussing policy and advocacy, we will offer several sessions to provide industry information to consumers, entrepreneurs, and investors.
Texas Marijuana Policy Conference
Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2019
Sheraton Austin at the Capitol
701 E 11th St, Austin, Texas 78701
 
Register now to secure your tickets, including opportunities to bundle and save on your conference registration and hotel room reservation!

Here is just some of the content you can expect at this conference over Labor Day weekend
:
  • Investing in Cannabis with Matt Nordgren (Arcadian Fund)
  • Cannabis Jobs: Working in the Industry with Trey Tijerina (Texas Cannabis Business Alliance)
  • Patients: Resources and what you need to know in Texas with
    Christina Burke (Compassionate Cultivation)
  • Entrepreneurs: Building your brand, your team, and your network with Robert Head (Blue Cord Farms), Seth Nyer (Bee Delightful), Elizabeth Hogan (Willie’s Remedy), and Trey Tijerina (Moderator)
  • Processing Cannabis in Texas (Technology and Best Practices) with
    Jennifer Blossom (Xabis Processing Laboratory, Compassionate Cultivation)
  • Product Accountability: Labs, Testing, and Labeling with
    Tori Strong, Ph.D (Vyripharm Biopharmaceuticals, Texas Medical Center)
  • Cannabis Consumer Education: Identifying Quality Products with
    Mary Olivar (Greenbelt Capital), Chelsey Lewis (PrimaHemp), Amanda Crawford (My Jane), Jae Graham (MaryJae)
  • Finances: Taxes, Accounting, and Banking with Summer Wilkinson, CPA (Leaf Book CFO Services LLC) and Rachel Kennerly, CPA (The Grow CFO)

See our full event schedule here and register to attend. (Please consider an additional donation to help cover the cost for a patient or caregiver who would like to attend, but may not otherwise be able to afford to do so.)

Discounted hotel room rates expire on Thursday, so don’t wait to make your reservations!

Announcing: Second Annual Texas Marijuana Policy Conference!

We’re  excited to announce that we’ll be hosting our second annual Texas Marijuana Policy Conference in Austin over Labor Day weekend!

Early bird ticket pricing available now.

Our three-day conference will offer presentations from policy and industry leaders to help attendees better understand and navigate the new legal climate in Texas and federally. We will also be focused on opportunities and our path forward to ensure more meaningful policy changes when the legislature meets again in 2021.

In addition to policy and advocacy discussions surrounding decriminalization, medical cannabis, and hemp, we’ll feature a track of cannabis business sessions geared toward entrepreneurs, market watchdogs, and investors. We’ll also offer accredited continuing legal and medical education for attorneys and medical professionals.

Register now for early bird pricing and please share the event with your friends and colleagues who are interested in this exciting movement! (Rates go up on August 1st.)

Sponsorship opportunities available. Email executivedirector@informedtexas.org.

All attendees have access to a discounted rate for hotel rooms at the Sheraton (conference location). Reserve your room now to lock in the discount.

Thank you for your continued support of reform in Texas. I hope to see you in August!

The 86th Texas Legislature has Adjourned – Session Recap!

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!

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More info about the two cannabis bills that passed into law:

HEMP
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.)


MEDICAL CANNABIS

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.)

Texas Senate votes to expand the Compassionate Use Program

The Texas Senate has approved HB 3703, an extremely limited medical cannabis bill. It’s a bitter sweet moment for those of us who have worked so hard to truly fix and expand the Texas Compassionate Use Program.

As passed by the House, HB 3703 only listed three additional qualifying conditions: epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and spasticity. Thanks to advocates like you from across the state and leadership from Senator Donna Campbell, amendments were made in the Senate to include the following addition qualifying conditions: all seizure disorders, terminal cancer, autism, ALS, and incurable neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases.

Another favorable amendments include a change to require approval from only one specialist in order for patients to participate in the program. Sen. Campbell’s version of the bill also attempts to protect doctors by defining a “prescription” for medical use of low-THC cannabis as an entry in the compassionate-use registry. (Bill overview.)

Next steps: Sen. Campbell’s good amendments need to be approved in the House and then the bill heads to Gov. Abbott’s desk for a signature.

This bill moves the needle, but falls very short of what we need in Texas! Those with other debilitating medical conditions need access to whole plant cannabis and we will not stop until the Compassionate Use Program is truly made more inclusive and functional, protecting patients and providers.

Onward!

Texas: Medical cannabis must be approved in the Senate by Wednesday. Take action now!

The 2019 legislative session comes to a close in one week and one medical cannabis bill is still alive and moving!

On Friday, a senate committee quickly voted to approve HB 3703, a proposal to make low-THC cannabis available to those with all seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, incurable neurodegenerative disease, autism, ALS and spasticity. However, conditions such as PTSD, colitis, severe pain and more were not included on the list of qualifying conditions. (Bill overview as amended in committee.)

The next few days are critical. We have one last opportunity to improve the bill by supporting amendments during the Senate floor debate. It is imperative that your state senator hears from you now!

Medical cannabis must be voted on in the Senate by close of business on Wednesday, May 22nd.

Originally, this bill only included three conditions, but after hearing from thousands of Texans, lawmakers expanded that list. Our engagement is working!

  1. Email your senator in support of more inclusive access to medical cannabis.
  2. Call your state senator’s office. Here’s an example of what to say when you call:

“Hello, my name is __________. I’m calling as a constituent and in support of HB 3703, the medical cannabis bill sponsored by Dr. Campbell. This bill expands the Compassionate Use Program, which I fully support. In addition to the qualifying conditions listed, I’d also like my senator to support the inclusion of patients with PTSD, severe pain, and other debilitating medical conditions. Our state also needs to start doing research on cannabis. Please ask my senator to support HB 3703 and amendments to make it more inclusive. Thank you.”

​Please share this information with every Texan you know who supports reform.

Thank you for taking action during this final push! So many patients simply cannot wait another two years.

Onward!

Big Week in Austin: Hemp was legalized and medical cannabis advances!

We started with a record-setting 60 cannabis related bills. With a little more than a week left in the legislative session, industrial hemp has been legalized and, after a great hearing, a House-approved medical cannabis bill has passed with unanimous support out of the Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee. Here’s a comprehensive report:

INDUSTRIAL HEMP

On May 15, HB 1325 (industrial hemp) passed with an unanimous vote in the Texas Senate! The next step is reconciliation between the House and Senate, then the bill goes to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk for a signature.

This bill legalizes in-state cultivation of hemp and regulates retail hemp products. Upon final approval, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) will have 60 days to establish and send rule and regulations to the the US government for approval. As stated by a TDA representative recently, 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, please contact a consulting firm.)

MEDICAL CANNABIS

On Friday, members of the HHS Committee heard powerful public testimony in support of HB 3703, Rep. Klick’s bill to expand access to the Compassionate Use Program. The committee took swift action, passing the bill with unanimous support just hours after the hearing! (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 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.

These changes are consistent with our recommendations and we are grateful to see them adopted. Great work, everyone!

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! 

For now, let’s focus on trying to amend this bill on the Senate floor when it’s debated and voted on.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your senator now and ask them to support amendments make the program more inclusive.

Thank you for your continued efforts as we fight for legal patient access to cannabis!

TEXAS: Medical cannabis bill scheduled for a hearing on Friday in the Senate!

Last week, the Texas House passed two limited medical cannabis bills (HB 1365 and HB 3703). Both bills are very limited in scope and have arrived in the Senate, but only HB 3703 has been referred to committee. The Health and Human Service (HHS) Committee promptly scheduled a hearing for the bill, which will happen this Friday, May 17th.

HB 3703 is Rep. Stephanie Klick’s proposal to make low-THC cannabis available to those with all seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, and spasticity, but it leaves behind those who need THC or have an unlisted medical condition like cancer, PTSD, and severe pain.

We’re disappointed that so many patients are excluded with this proposal and will continue working to amend the bill. We want a medical cannabis program that is more inclusive and doesn’t get in the way of a doctor’s ability to treat their patient!

Here’s what you can do to help:

1) Contact your senator in support of medical cannabis!

2) Email your support of an inclusive medical cannabis program to the HHS committee members!

Please note that things can change very quickly toward the end of the legislative session. To get the most up to date information, follow live updates in our event page.

Hearings in the Senate work differently than those in the House. Legislators have requested that advocates register in support of the bill. You must be present at the Capitol in order to do so. Here’s more information about Senate Hearings.

Thank you for your continued support and advocacy for more sensible and compassionate marijuana policies!

TxMJPolicy Update: Only two weeks left until the legislature adjourns!

There are only two weeks left in the legislative session and our state’s “leadership” has gone to extraordinary lengths to obstruct our tremendous progress. Let’s keep pushing!!

Texas Marijuana Policy Update 

Penalty Reduction Update: After passing overwhelmingly in the House with bipartisan support, HB 63 sits on Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s desk awaiting referral to a committee for further consideration and advancement. The bill would reduce penalties for low-level marijuana possession, preserving valuable public safety resources and keeping a marijuana charge from derailing a person’s life. Sadly, Lt. Gov. Patrick is impeding the legislative process based on his personal opinion, which is out of step with Texas and even his own political party. Email Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and ask him to reconsider his position!

Then, call his office: (512) 463-0001. Here what to say when you call:

Hello, my name is ___. It has come to my attention that the Lieutenant Governor is impeding the legislative process by declining to refer HB 63 to The Criminal Justice Committee for consideration. I’m in strong support of this bill, which is supported by the vast majority of Texans, including more than 80% of the Texas GOP when they voted to include the subject in their party platform. I am requesting that the Lieutenant Governor reconsider his position and allow for a hearing in the Senate on this bill, which has bipartisan support. Thank you for your time.”

Please take an additional moment to email your senator in support of HB 63.

Medical Cannabis Update: Last week the Texas House passed two limited medical cannabis bills (HB 1365 and HB 3703). Both bills have arrived in the Senate, but only one has been referred to committee for a hearing. HB 3703 is Rep. Stephanie Klick’s proposal to make low-THC cannabis available to those with all seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, and spasticity, but it leaves behind those who need THC or have an unlisted medical condition like cancer, PTSD, and severe pain.

We want a medical cannabis program that is more inclusive and doesn’t get in the way of a doctor’s ability to treat their patient. Contact your senator in support of medical cannabis!

Industrial Hemp Update: HB 1325 passed the Texas House unanimously, moved promptly to the Senate for a hearing, and was reportedly passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee last week. The next step is for all senators to vote on legalizing industrial hemp in Texas. Contact your senator in support of HB 1325.

Stay tuned for updates on know how these issues are progressing and what you can do to help during this final stretch!

Please consider making a donation toward our efforts at the Capitol.

Texas: Medical Marijuana is up for a vote in the House today!

Our state’s Compassionate Use Program is unreasonably restrictive, leaving behind the vast majority of patients who can benefit from medical cannabis. Let’s make this program more inclusive!

Today in Austin, the Texas House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on two medical cannabis bills. One is good, but the other does very little to expand access or set Texas on a path toward a functional and meaningful medical marijuana program.

Please contact your representative in support of HB 1365, Rep. Lucio’s bill to expand the current program and create a cannabis research and review board with the power to add qualifying conditions and determine “dosages and formulations, including ratios of cannabinoids.”

Please also consider taking a moment to call your representative in support of the bill:

1. Identify your representative and their Capitol office phone number.

2. Call your Texas State Representative to ask that they vote YES for HB 1365 when it’s up for a vote today.

Here is a script you can use:

“Hello, my name is ___ and I am a constituent. I would like to request that my representative vote YES for Representative Lucio’s HB 1365, which is up for a vote today. This is important legislation that will improve the quality of life for countless patients and their families. Thank you for your time and the representative’s service. Have a great day!”

To receive updates throughout the day, including a link to the livestream when the bill is up for consideration, follow this Facebook event page.

I’ll send a follow up email when we know the result of the vote. Thank you for your support!

(Here’s a policy overview of HB 1365.)

Grassroots Action for Legislative Reform