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.)

Lt. Gov. Patrick is trying to shut down HB 63, but we’re not going down without a fight!

This week has been exciting, but tough. After passing the House with a bipartisan supermajority (historic progress!), Rep. Moody’s HB 63 (marijuana penalty reduction) was promptly met with firm opposition from Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

Many felt discouraged, but we’ve accepted the challenge! Thanks to your help, we’ve pushed back with thousands of calls and email to his office and other senators, including Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire, the longest serving member of the senate. He said, “I don’t believe it’s dead and I’m going to do the best I can [to round up support]. I’m trying to see if we have the votes in the Criminal Justice Committee to get it to the [Senate] floor.”

We need your support to keep fighting!

–> Please make a donation toward our work at the Capitol. <–

We’re busy providing educational and resource materials to senators, mobilizing grassroots action, and ensuring favorable media coverage. This week, our work was covered by Forbes, the Huffington Post, the Associated Press, CBS, NBC, Texas Public Radio, San Antonio Express, KLBJ 590 Radio, Spectrum (x3), Texas Tribune (x2), Austin American Statesman, and the Texas Observer.

Here’s the latest:


Here are other actions you can take to help move HB 63 in the Senate:

Click here to send a quick email to your senator, THEN…

Contact the Lt. Governor to let him know you support sensible marijuana policy in Texas!

Email Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and ask him to reconsider his position!

Call the Lt. Governor’s office: (512) 463-0001. Here’s what to say when you call:

Hello, my name is ___. It has come to my attention that the Lieutenant Governor is standing in the way of important legislation, HB 63. This is a very important policy to me, which I believe should be instituted. Marijuana penalty reduction was supported by 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 bipartisan proposal.”

The legislative session ends on May 27, giving us just weeks to earn the support necessary in the Senate to pass HB 63.

Let’s keep pushing!

HB 63 Passes the House! Let’s keep up the momentum — Contact your senator today!

With a super majority, the Texas House approved Rep. Moody’s HB 63, a bill that seeks to reduce penalties for low-level marijuana possession. Democratic and Republican representatives alike joined forces to pass this sensible approach to marijuana law reform.

Next stop: Texas Senate!

Take a moment to help us keep up the momentum. Contact your senator today!

SEND AN EMAIL: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/ask-your-senator-to-support-reduced-penalties-for-marijuana-possession/

MAKE A QUICK CALL:

1) Identify your senator here, including their Capitol office phone number.
2) Here’s what to say when you call:

“Hello, my name is _______ and I’m a constituent calling from ____________. Yesterday the House passed HB 63 to reduce penalties for low-level marijuana possession. I’m calling today in support of this important bill and to ask that my senator please support it, too. Please ask my senator to request a hearing on HB 63 as soon as possible. Thank your your time and service to our district.”

Your advocacy lets your senator know that this issue is important to his/her constituents. Thank you for taking action in support of reform in Texas!

Today: A House vote on HB 63! (Secure the vote: Contact your representative!)

It’s going to be another exciting week at the Capitol!

Today in Austin, the Texas House of Representatives is set to debate and vote on Rep. Joe Moody’s bill to reduce penalties for marijuana possession. House Bill 63 eliminates the threat of arrest and jail time for up to one ounce of marijuana. It also provides for an automatic deferral and expungement, helping people avoid a criminal record and the lasting collateral consequences of a conviction.

Make sure your representative knows you support HB 63!
— SEND AN EMAIL NOW —

The House convenes at 10am, but there’s no way to know exactly when HB 63 will be considered. You can join us at the Capitol to experience this big moment in person, or tune in to the live stream from home. Follow this Facebook event page for updates, including a link to the live stream as soon as the debate begins.

CALL to Action: Please call your representative’s office in addition to using the link above to send an email. Find their phone number here and tell them you’re “a constituent calling in support of HB 63, which is being voted on today.”

Let’s flood the Capitol with support of marijuana law reform!

Happening Wednesday: Direct Action at the Capitol. We’ll be visiting legislative offices in support of medical marijuana. HB 1365 is in with the Calendars Committee, awaiting being scheduled for a vote in the House. Join us at 11am in the library. First timers welcome. Materials will be provided and we’ll split into teams

Has your representative co-authored the Rep. Lucio’s HB 1365? If not, please ask him/her to do so with a quick email.

Please share these actions with supportive friends and family members. Thank you for being a part of this movement for marijuana law reform in Texas!

Grassroots Action for Legislative Reform